Plain Language

Plain Language + Compassion Help People in Crisis

Wednesday, March 09, 2022 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM ET

Hosted by and the Plain Language Community of Practice

View the slides (PowerPoint presentation, 3.3 MB, 15 pages)

In the ecosystem of federal response to the opioid crisis, 18F knew needed to complement, not compete with, other resources. Cordelia Yu and Amanda Costello are content strategists in 18F, part of GSA’s Technology Transformation Services (TTS). They worked with teams at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2019 to help transform and focus to connect people looking for substance use disorder treatment with facilities that could help.

Through broad research, compassionate content, and sharply-defined scope, they helped launch a nationwide resource that answered questions and bridged a critical gap for people seeking help with substance use disorder. By writing in plain language, they clarified what services and help were available to match people’s needs.

During this session, you’ll learn how to:

  • Craft honest, straightforward content that addresses worries and concerns, and keeps people moving forward.
  • Define scope and success by mapping the wider user experience and blockers beyond the project at hand.
  • Learn how to approach high-stakes political situations with confidence in your expertise.


  •   Amanda Costello — Content Strategist, 18F, General Services Administration (GSA)
  •   Cordelia Yu — Content Strategist, 18F, General Services Administration (GSA)


  • Katherine Spivey — U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)
  • Katina Stapleton — U.S. Department of Education (ED)

The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is a group of federal employees from different agencies and specialties who support the use of clear communication in government writing. Join the Community of Practice.

In this talk

Originally posted by Amanda Costello on Mar 9, 2022


Originally posted by Katherine Spivey on Mar 9, 2022

GSA | Washington D.C.

Originally posted by Katina Stapleton on Mar 9, 2022

Education | Washington, DC