In Brazil, Plain Language is also called Simple Language. In the following text, we chose to keep the term in its English version to facilitate understanding.
TJDFT+simples is an institutional initiative that combines Plain Language and Visual Law to expand society's access to Justice through clearer, more accessible and inclusive communications, as set out in Joint Ordinance nº 91/2021 of the Brazilian Federal District State Court (TJDFT).
Why adopt Plain Language and Visual Law?
A better relationship with society requires increasingly more transparency, rapid response and efficiency in the provision of public services. Communicating clearly and objectively is still essential for:
Convey and strengthen trust between institutions and society;
Demonstrate respect for all audiences, by using more accessible language for everyone;
Promote independence and autonomy of individuals when dealing with the rules governing their social interactions;
Furthermore, the digital transformation we are experiencing has created new patterns of behavior. Among them, we highlight:
A preference for short texts with visual resources to aid reading;
Greater internet access via smartphones (small screens) compared to desktop computers or laptops (larger screens).
An ever-increasing amount of information and content competing for the audience's attention.
Therefore, using clear and accessible language, combined with Visual Law, has become so important and necessary in today's world. More and more government agencies, both in Brazil and around the world, are dedicating themselves to these resources, recognizing their potential to connect with citizens.
Plain Language is a movement born mainly in the United States and England during the 1940s and which, today, is already spread across some countries around the world. In Brazil, it has been materializing since 2009, mainly in the Executive Branch.
Within the Judiciary Branch, the initiative of the Association of Brazilian Magistrates (AMB) stands out, which in 2005 launched the National Campaign for Simplification of Legal Language. This action was aimed at Law students and highlighted the need to simplify the language used by judges, members of the Public Prosecution and other legal operators to democratize the Judiciary and expand society's access to Justice.
The National Strategy 2021-2026 established by Resolution nº 325/2020 of the National Council of Justice - CNJ brings the strengthening of the institutional relationship between the Judiciary and society as one of its Macro-Challenges. It refers to the adoption of objective and agile communication strategies and procedures in easy-to-understand language, aiming at transparency and strengthening the Judiciary as an institution that guarantees rights.
In September 2023, the National Council of Justice (CNJ) published the Recommendation nº 144, which instructs Brazilian Courts to implement the use of plain language in the communications and acts they issue. The document's justifications include:
• promoting accessibility and inclusion;
• reduction of inequalities (SDG 10);
• promoting transparency, participation, social control and access to public services.
CNJ is a body of the Judiciary headquartered in Brasília (DF) which operates throughout the national territory. Its activities aim to improve the work of the Brazilian Judiciary, especially with regard to administrative and procedural control and transparency.
With the launch of TJDFT+Simples, the Court institutionally embraced the challenge to disseminate plain language and visual law and now invites everyone to be part of this change! The objective is to produce clear, objective and inclusive communications that allow citizens to have easy access, understand and be able to use the information produced by TJDFT.
Furthermore, the program is also dedicated to standardizing the visual identity of its documents and informational materials, so that they are widely recognized by its audience.
To disseminate the practices in TJDFT and assist in their implementation, we have developed some guides as Guia Rápido - Como escrever em linguagem simples and Guia Rápido – Como simplificar documentos.
In addition, the TJDFT´s Icon Glossary was created to offer standardized icons, with defined meanings, to help reinforce and understand of the information transmitted. This resource was developed by the Innovation Lab Aurora in partnership with the Social Communication Divison and contributes to creating a unique visual language for all pieces.
Screenshot of the TJDFT Icon Glossary.
All resources created within the Program are gathered in a repository for internal use at TJDFT. There, document and templates developed using plain language and visual law within the Court are also available for consultation and use by its judicial units, as well as access to a Community focused on the topic on institutional social media and consultation to other educational materials such as the comic strips Seja+simples!.
Comic strips Seja+simples!
They were released to celebrate International Plain Language Day, celebrated every October 13th. Their objective is to draw attention to situations that occur in the day-to-day life of the Court and show, in a practical way, how small changes in the text or word substitutions can facilitate communication with the public. Everything in a playful and light way.
The script for each strip is created based on experiences collected by the Innovation Lab Aurora during workshops and in its interactions with the Court´s internal audience. The drawings are created voluntarily by employee Ludmila Pereira de Souza do Couto Maciel, through Aurora´s internal project called Reveal your Talent!
Simplifique: the Linguistic Empathy Game
Transforming communication through the use of plain language is a possible and necessary revolution. In this sense, all
resources and approaches are assets that must be used to stimulate a cultural change as important as this.
Applying gamification to Seja+simples comics was the chosen move to further expand and encourage the adoption of a clear and simple language between TJDFT and society.
Simplifique is an analog card game that encourages reflection on the use of complex terms in the day-to-day work of the Judiciary and their exchange for simpler, more accessible words. It also encourages collaboration, interaction and the exchange of experiences between people, especially the internal public of a Court or those who deal daily with so-called
The winner of this game is the population, who will have more autonomy to fulfill their obligations and guarantee their rights through increasingly accessible communication.
Judicial warrants with Plain Language and Visual Law
Judicial warrants are official communications that a Court addresses to society. They are produced within judicial processes and serve to inform, request or determine that something must be is done. As a rule, these documents reach people (individuals or legal entities) by post, by Court Officials, or electronically, in the 100% digital Justice modality (by e-mails, for example).
The use of plain language and visual law in warrants is part of the Expedição 4.0 project, which aims to develop innovative solutions in the area of issuing documents and executing warrants, with a focus on the digital era.
Among these solutions is the improvement of the text and layout of warrants to facilitate the exercise of rights and fulfillment of obligations by citizens who receive these documents.
In June 2023, the Expedição 4.0 project received 2nd place in the first edition of the Justice and Innovation Award, an initiative of the Supreme Court (STF) and the National Council of Justice (CNJ). The award aims to “foster academic research and technological innovation capable of contributing to the improvement of judicial provision and the solution of practical challenges faced by the Brazilian Judiciary”.