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Assessing the Readability of Policy Documents: The Case of Terms of Use of Online Services

Publication Type: 
Edited Conference Meeting Proceeding
Whether for using online services or dealing with legal issues, citizens are often requested to sign/accept contracts and other policy documents that are intended to commit them to specific rights and duties. Usually such documents are difficult to read due to their nature, the length of sentences, complex terms used, etc. Therefore average citizens might find it difficult to take a decision regarding those policies and regulation texts. We consider here that the authors of those documents should keep in mind their target audience and tailor their texts to their profiles. A good indicator that can be used in this context is the average education level of the citizens of a country. On the other hand, readability measures/scores of texts have been used to assess if educational material is suitable for the intended students’ level of education attainment. In this paper, we use this information to assess the readability of terms of use of online services and correlate this information with the education attainment of the countries of their target audience. Our analysis shows that even though a lot of efforts are made to make policy text easy to read, some websites are still unable to align them to their target audience of developing countries.
Conference Name: 
International Conferences on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance
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Research Group: 
National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG)
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