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Re: Simplified Text: Examples and Resources

From: lisa Seeman <seeman@netvision.net.il>
Date: Fri, 03 May 2002 04:13:23 -0700
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org, GV@TRACE.WISC.EDU
Message-id: <029401c1f293$8a4d7190$2c00000a@patirsrv.patir.com>
Ok I have taken a look at the links, sorry it took so long.

missed out, my favorite place on this stuff


I think it is quite authoritative.

Ok review time:

The headings given in the original email were off, I used the anyway so you
can check what I have looked at compaered to the original.

Some good stuff hear,

I prefaces anything that we may want to add or change our wording towards
[Include in WCAG ?], so you can skim through it

I left out things I thought no one would want to include. If you think that
you may want to include even more then my <sarcasm>little</sarcasm and self
critique> go to the sites any look for more to add.

I first looked at the tools sites. We need tools ASAP to make it testable.

1st Site -TOOLS

word dog, I think it gives the author the option to remove redundant text



They point out that average reading age in US is 8th grade. Of course we
have to aim for much lower. My writing age is of a seven year old (my
friends tell me it is of a seven year old with bad writing) so I assume we
have to be going for 1st grade reading and writing skills.

They show you how to test using word (MS). I did not mange it, oh well

[Include in WCAG ?] They also have a cool smog test........


The SMOG (Simplified Measure of Gobbledygook) test is another quick,
consistent, and easy to use tool to determine reading level of written
materials. However, it is considered to not be as accurate for materials
written at a less than sixth grade reading level.

Here is the formula:

Select 3 samples of 10 consecutive sentences each from different sections of
your text (at least 100 words total).

Count the total number of words that have 3 or more syllables in the 30

Get out your calculator and calculate the square root of the number (punch
in the number and hit the square root key).

Add 3 and that will be the approximate reading level.


Total words with 3 or more syllables = 64

Square root of 64 = 8

8+3 = 11th grade reading level



There are a few of these product around that make English unambiguous, this
is tailed to aviation industry.

But the point is:

[Include in WCAG ?] The key principle is ONE WORD - ONE MEANING.

In part they manage that by requiring an active voice, not passive voice,
and keeping to strict grammatical formulae of sentence construction. makes
the user choose the standard meaning for words, or an alternate

[Include in WCAG ?] Key new point they have : Marks the nice-to-know versus
the need-to-know. , not bad one, I would like to require it

also of note, the register new words, good idea, and new words should come
with a definition.

[Include in WCAG ?] Lastly they automatically generate a glossary of context
and usage of each word, so you can check and edit for consistency of word

Readability measurements

Under readability measurements were a few sites for the argument f the need
to have controlled English, (eg

http://www.hcrc.ed.ac.uk/Site/DOUGS96.html just said someone had published
an interesting paper.

Site 4 - readability measurements


 It starts with a lexicon of approved words,

[Include in WCAG ?]  Each word can only be used as the part of speech as

"close" is a verb so:

"do not go close to the landing gear" is wrong,

"do not go near the landing gear" is acceptable.

[Include in WCAG ?]  Words can only be used with the approved meaning:

"follow" means to come after, so:

"follow the safety rules" is wrong,

"obey the safety rules" is acceptable

Site 5

The Bowing site has a controlled English checker that checks for

Use the active voice.

[Include in WCAG ?] Use articles wherever possible.

[Include in WCAG ?] Use simple verb tenses.

[Include in WCAG ?] Use language consistently.

[Include in WCAG ?] Avoid lengthy compound words.

Use relatively short sentences.

Site 6

http://www.plainlanguage.gov/, lists all the effort of gov to publish in
plain language,


http://www.plainlanguage.gov/library/ataglanc.htm is a nice explination in a
few words of what to do

The Office of the Federal Register (OFR) offers the following resources to
help writers comply with the Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998 --
Plain Language in Government Writing . (can not get the url, - url
masking! - ironic)

http://www.nara.gov/fedreg/planrew1.html#top has an example of how to
simplifie a rule

To shorten five pages:

[Include in WCAG ?] 3 steps:

 Divide rule into more logical units

 ReTitle new units and move them up as high as you can

 Replace passive voice with active voice, add pronouns, simplify language

Principles of Clear Writing also from gov

[Include in WCAG ?] active voice (with clear examples : must have)

The passive voice makes sentences longer and roundabout. Who is responsible
is much less obvious. Passive verbs have a form of the verb to be plus the
past participle of a main verb. words like "am","are" and ending in "ed"

[Include in WCAG ?] Use action verbs

e "must" instead of "shall".

[Include in WCAG ?] Use the present tense

[Include in WCAG ?] Write positively - avoid more then one negative in a
sentence -

[Include in WCAG ?] Avoid use of exceptions. If possible, state a rule or
category directly rather than describing that rule or category by stating
its exceptions.

[Include in WCAG ?] Avoid split infinitives NOTE: this is the first
guideline that I have ever seen that attempts to avoid offence. As emotional
disabilities are disabilities, I think we should include it.

[Include in WCAG ?] Use the singular noun rather than the plural noun.

[Include in WCAG ?] Be consistent. Don't use different words to denote the
same things

[Include in WCAG ?] Use parallel structure - this is about the data model -
It may already be implied, but this is explicit.

Use Simple words

[Include in WCAG ?] omit needless words

[Include in WCAG ?] Use concrete words

[Include in WCAG ?] avoid redundancy -(we would need to add that this is
only redundancy in text itself)

[Include in WCAG ?] Avoid noun sandwiches eg: Underground mine worker safety
protection procedures development (add "OF" AND "FOR")

[Include in WCAG ?] Avoid Gender - interesting in that they see this as way
to make things clearer. They may be right.

Write short sentences. [Include in WCAG ?] Readable sentences are simple,
active, affirmative, and declarative.

They recommend this by:

[Include in WCAG ?] State one thing and only one thing in each sentence.

Divide long sentences into two or three short sentences.

Remove all unnecessary words. Strive for a simple sentence with a subject
and verb. Eliminate unnecessary modifiers.

[Include in WCAG ?] If only one or two simple conditions must be met before
a rule applies, state the conditions first and then state the rule.

[Include in WCAG ?] If two or more complex conditions must be met before a
rule applies, state the rule first and then state the conditions.

[Include in WCAG ?] If several conditions or subordinate provisions must be
met before a rule applies, use a list.

[Include in WCAG ?] Make lists clear and logical in structure. (the logic,
bit could be added to our list recommendation) Listing provides white space
that separates the various conditions. Listing can help you avoid the
problems of ambiguity caused by the words "and" and "or". When you list, use
the following rules:

[Include in WCAG ?] Use parallel structure. (See example in item 11 above.)

[Include in WCAG ?] List each item so that it makes a complete thought when
read with the introductory text.

[Include in WCAG ?] If the introductory language for the list is a complete
sentence --

End the introduction with a colon; and

Make each item in the list a separate sentence.

[Include in WCAG ?] If the introductory language for the list is an
incomplete sentence --

End the introduction with a dash;

End each item in the list except the last item with a semicolon;

After the semicolon in the next-to-last item in the list, write "and" or
"or" as appropriate; and

End the last item in the list with a period.

Use short paragraphs

I bet you thought that was enough..

On headings and structure they point out:

[Include in WCAG ?] Establish a single principle of division and use that
principle to divide the subject matter into major topics

[Include in WCAG ?] Descriptive headings should illustrate the logic and
arrangement of your regulations. Descriptive headings help readers locate
the provisions of the regulations that apply to them.


[Include in WCAG ?] Do not define in a way that conflicts with ordinary or
accepted usage

[Include in WCAG ?] If a term is used only once or infrequently, spell out
the meaning of the term at those few places it appears

and they give standard ways that you can list you defintions


An ambiguous sentence is a sentence that a reader can interpret in two or
more ways. Ambiguity has at least two common sources -- word order and word


The position of words in a sentence is the principal means of showing their
relationship. You should group together words that are related in thought
and separate words that are not related. The following conventions address
the most common word order problems.

l[Include in WCAG ?]. Avoid misplaced modifiers. The careless placement of a
modifier may result in the same sentence having several meanings.

DON'T SAY: John saw Jane driving down the street.

SAY: John, while driving down the street, saw Jane.

unless you mean

John saw Jane, who was driving down the street.

2. [Include in WCAG ?] Avoid indefinite pronouns used as references. If a
pronoun could refer to more than one person or object in a sentence, repeat
the name of the individual or object.

DON'T SAY: After the administrator appoints an Assistant, he or she shall
supervise the ...

SAY: After the Administrator appoints an Assistant, the Assistant shall
supervise the ...

3. [Include in WCAG ?] Avoid grouping together two or more prepositional
phrases. A common example of a problem of word order occurs when two or more
prepositional phrases are grouped together in a sentence.

DON'T SAY: Each subscriber to a newspaper in Washington, DC.

SAY: Each newspaper subscriber who lives in Washington, DC.

unless you mean

Each subscriber to a newspaper published in Washington, DC.


Problems of word meaning occur when one word or phrase is open to several
possible intepretations. The following conventions address the most common
problems of word meaning.

4. [Include in WCAG ?] Use the singular noun rather than the plural noun. To
the extent your meaning allows, use a singular noun instead of a plural
noun. You will avoid the problem of whether the rule applies separately to
each member of a class or jointly to the class as a whole.

The guard shall issue security badges to employees who work in Buidling D
and Building E.


The guard shall issue a security badge to each employee who works in
Building D and each employee who works in Buidling E

5. [Include in WCAG ?] Draft an expression of time as accurately as
possible. You can eliminate uncertainty as to when a time period begins or
ends by clearly stating the first and last days of that period.

DON'T SAY: From July 1, 19___, until June 30, 19___.

SAY: After June 30, 19___, and before July 1, 19___.

If a time period is measured in whole days, use the word "day" instead of
"time". A reader may interpret the word "time" to mean an exact time during
the day or night an event occurs.

DON'T SAY: Thirty days after the time when ...

SAY: Thirty days after the day on which ....

6. [Include in WCAG ?] Draft an expression of age as accurately as possible.
Similar problems occur when you express an age requirement. The expression
"more than 21 years old" has two possible meanings. A person may be "more
than 21" on his or her 21st birthday, or on his or her 22nd birthday.
Depending upon which meaning you intend, clarify the ambiguity as follows:

SAY: Sixteen years old or older and under 21 ...

7. [Include in WCAG ?] Do not use privisos. The priviso is archaic,
legalistic, and usually results in a long and unintelligible sentence. Use
the following drafting conventions to avoid expressions such as "provided
however" and "provided always".


[Include in WCAG ?] Explain how you've organized the document and how to use

- Use descriptive headings to help your reader find specific information
more easily.

- Summarize complicated topics before you describe all the details.

- Place items of most interest to your reader at the beginning.

- Start by answering general questions and move on to specific questions

- Describe a process in chronological order.

- [Include in WCAG ?] Include only information your reader really needs. (or
mark up)

Examples of simplications



just stats of how peaple reduced the word count and readabilty levels using
this consultent.

----- Original Message -----

From: "Gregg Vanderheiden" <GV@TRACE.WISC.EDU>

To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Sent: Saturday, April 27, 2002 8:35 PM

Subject: FW: Simplified Text: Examples and Resources

> Are there things in one of these that we don't have in our guidelines or

> techniques docs? Can someone take a look at these and abstract out

> strategies that we should capture in our techniques or strategies.



> Thanks


> Gregg



> ------------------------------------

> Gregg Vanderheiden Ph.D.

> Ind Engr - Biomed - Trace, Univ of Wis

> gv@trace.wisc.edu





> -----Original Message-----

> From: owner-uaccess-l@trace.wisc.edu

> [mailto:owner-uaccess-l@trace.wisc.edu] On Behalf Of Jacobs, Steve I

> Sent: Saturday, April 27, 2002 2:54 PM

> To: uaccess-l@trace.wisc.edu

> Subject: Simplified Text: Examples and Resources

> Importance: High


> Dear all,


> In support of everyone having access to English simplification resources

> and

> examples... I offer the following.


> The following examples and links are from Lesson 24 of my workshop

> entitled,

> "The Business Benefits of Accessible IT Design." For more information:

> http://www.easi.cc/workshops/bbaitsyl.htm



> ------------

> 1. Controlled language in Industry and Government:

> http://www.easi.cc/jacobs/lesson243_industry.htm


> 2. Tools to Simplify Text:

> http://www.easi.cc/jacobs/lesson_245_tools.htm


> 3. Readability Measurement Tools:

> http://www.easi.cc/jacobs/lesson244_readability.htm


> 4. Example of Simplification:

> http://www.easi.cc/jacobs/simple_english.htm


> 5. Humor Regarding the Complexity of the English Language:

> http://www.easi.cc/jacobs/humor.htm


> Sincerely,


> Steve


> --------

> Steve Jacobs

> Accessibility Program Manager

> and President, IDEAL at NCR

> NCR Corporation

> 2809 Bohlen Drive

> Hilliard, Ohio 43026


> Phone: (614) 777-0660

> Fax: (937) 445-1955

> TTY: (800) 855-2880

> STS: (877) 750-9097

> E-mail: steve.jacobs@ncr.com

> URL: http://www.ncr.com



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