Ensure that your consultation is clear, concise and widely accessible.

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Criterion 3: Ensure that your consultation is clear, concise and widely accessible.

  1. Clear - Use plain language: avoid jargon and only use technical terms where absolutely necessary. A consultation should be as accessible as possible. Explain complicated concepts as clearly as possible and, where there are technical terms, use a glossary.
  2. Concise - Provide an executive summary to the written consultation document that covers the main points of the document, preferably no longer than two pages. Even if the document is technical, ensure that the executive summary is accessible to all. Having read the executive summary consultees should be in a position to decide whether the consultation is relevant to them, and whether they need to read further.
  3. Accessible - Ensure that the consultation documents are available in paper format and with the fullest use of electronic means. They should be available and easily found on the internet from the day that the consultation is launched.
  4. Efforts should be made to bring the consultation to the attention of all interested parties. As well as using the internet you should consider publicising the consultation in ways most appropriate for the groups you wish to reach.
  5. Respondents should be able to respond electronically if they choose. Produce documents in electronic formats appropriate to achieving wide accessibility. Consider the range of electronic response methods to ensure that providing a response is simple, engages a broad range of people and encourages deliberation. Costs to users should never be such that they are an obstacle to effective consultation.
  6. Consider groups who cannot access traditional written consultations or the online versions of these. It may be necessary to produce the document in different languages, including, for example, Welsh. There may be some circumstances in which written consultation is not the best way to reach your target audience.
  7. With regard to equality issues, ensure that your consultation engages with the whole community. You may need to consider the format of the consultation to achieve this and to consider how to reach groups which could be overlooked. These groups could include black and minority ethnic communities, women or disabled people.
  8. Ensure that the consultation is suitable for the topic and groups involved. Certain issues may demand particular approaches to consultation: for example, discussion groups or meetings may be appropriate, especially where representative groups’ capacity to respond to formal consultation is limited and many bodies are seeking to consult with them.
  9. The consultation criteria should be reproduced in all consultation documents. Explicitly state that the consultation should abide by these criteria. Invite respondents to comment on the extent to which the criteria have been adhered to and to suggest ways of further improving the consultation process. Explicitly state whom to contact if respondents have comments or complaints about the consultation process. This should be someone outside the team running the consultation, and is likely to be the consultation co-ordinator for the department.

See Criterion 4