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A number of reading specialists are finding themselves testifying in court or writing expert opinions for court cases in such diverse areas as civil rights, criminal law, contracts, warranties, and due process. The validity of readability formulas was tested in the case of David v. Heckler. Another case involved a group of Florida prisoners who claimed they did not have their constitutional right of access to the courts. The state provides a law library, but the reading materials were written at college or graduate levels. California and Oregon adopted laws (upheld after legal challenges) specifying the readability of ballot measures. A number of states have passed plain language laws covering such documents as bank loans, rental agreements, and property purchase contracts. Readability formulas have their limitations--standardization is more powerful than readability, and readability formulas are not measures of writing maturity. Developed to aid reading teachers in selecting the proper reading materials for students, readability formulas are spreading into the courts and legislatures as one objective measure to protect basic rights for all. (Contains 16 references.) (RS)

Descriptors: Court Litigation, Elementary Education, Federal Courts, Measurement Techniques, Readability, Readability Formulas, Reading Material Selection, State Courts, State Legislation

Autor: Fry, Edward


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