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Plain Language references and thoughts

From: Wendy A Chisholm <wendy@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 05 Jun 2002 21:14:29 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org


I spoke with Avi Arditti from Voice of America [0] and have invited him to 
attend our teleconference tomorrow.  He has been using and teaching people 
how to use plain language for the last decade.

He pointed me to several great resources, most of which seem to be linked 
from the Plain Language Action Network (PLAN) - http://www.plainlanguage.gov

He gave me a quick overview of the plain language movement, here are a few 
brief highlights:
- There are a variety of controlled languages for a variety of industries
- There are controlled languages for Dutch, German, French
- Some agencies in the U.S. government are required to use plain language.

Many companies who write for a worldwide audience have adopted simplified 
language.  For example, General Motors and Boeing have employees worldwide. 
They write their technical manuals in plain english either for their 
employees to read AND/OR to translate into a variety of languages.  If 
written in a controlled language, the manuals can be machine translated to 
other human languages.

Thus, another example of additional benefits to following a WCAG checkpoint.

Regardless of how we word the checkpoint, here are some thoughts (in other 
words - I think Gregg's proposal is fine):

Currently, for markup languages we say: if a markup language exists, use 
it. [1]
Perhaps for human language we could say: if a simplified/controlled 
language exists for your industry/field, use it.

In either case (markup or human) we need to leave a way for people to use 
their own words/language where necessary.  For example, Boeing may use [2] 
the aerospace controlled language as the basis for their manuals, but will 
add Boeing specific parts and other words that they need in the manuals.

This is similar to following the XML Accessibility Guidelines [3] when 
writing an XML application:
   2.9 Reuse accessible modules from schemata as originally specified / 

In other words, build off of the core of a language, reuse as much as 
possible (whether it be human or machine language).

Techniques would reference the PLAN How To [4] (or something like it - as 
Lisa has been suggesting) and the PLAN Example Library [5].

Some more thoughts to throw into the mix.

[0] http://www.voa.gov/
[1] http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/WCAG20/#use-style
[2] http://www.boeing.com/assocproducts/sechecker/
[3] http://www.w3.org/TR/xag.html

wendy a chisholm
world wide web consortium
web accessibility initiative
seattle, wa usa
Received on Wednesday, 5 June 2002 21:08:07 UTC

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