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Re: [w3c-wai-gl] <none>

From: Avi Arditti <aardit@voa.gov>
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 2004 11:03:13 -0400
Message-ID: <416D43B1.171FE4F1@voa.gov>
To: "'WAI WCAG List'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
CC: Gregg Vanderheiden <gv@trace.wisc.edu>, lisa@ubaccess.com, "'Chris Ridpath'" <chris.ridpath@utoronto.ca>

Whatever happened to the list of attributes associated with clear
writing that was compiled for the old 4.1? Last time I saw it, it was
part of an appendix. These attributes could be presented as a kind of
checklist of things to consider, an informal test. 

But recall the great frustration is trying to find a way to promote
clear writing by *all* (and not just, say, writers of Caterpillar
Technical English, who are used to having to meet a company-defined
readability score) without being seen to threaten free expression. So
it's a carrot vs. stick situation.   

Any usability standard that involves written content would be incomplete
without addressing readability. It's so fundamental. Yet it seems to me
that in discreet organizations, a stick approach -- and formal testing
requirements could be seen that way -- is more of an option, despite the
risk of resentment (i.e., "damm you, Rudolph Flesch!")

But when you're trying to sell the world on an idea that sounds great in
principle (clear writing is good) but isn't tops in most people's minds,
nor always desired, then some kind of carrot approach seems more likely
to succeed. It's like trying to sell anything else that requires finesse
-- getting people to see that the potential benefits are worth the
investment.

So I think the challenge is to devise some kind of reward or recognition
for any active effort to improve clarity, including testing materials
with disabled people, but without turning people off by crossing the
line into what might be dismissed as censorship. 

Meanwhile, the Mexican government has just kicked off a clear-writing
campaign to promote "the people's language." And there are similar
proposals in Argentina. Viva plain language!

Avi 

Gregg Vanderheiden wrote:
> 
> HMM
> 
> What tests for clear writing do you know of Lisa.  Please send thoughts.
> This one has stumped us.  Lots of things to measure but nothing that really
> separates clear from unclear.   Maybe we can't have a 'pass = fail' but we
> could have something that would provide indicators of things that usually
> accompany less clear writing.
> 
> 
> Gregg
> 
>  -- ------------------------------
> Gregg C Vanderheiden Ph.D.
> Professor - Ind. Engr. & BioMed Engr.
> Director - Trace R & D Center
> University of Wisconsin-Madison
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On Behalf
> Of lisa@ubaccess.com
> Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2004 6:36 AM
> To: Chris Ridpath; WAI WCAG List
> Subject: [w3c-wai-gl] <none>
> 
> Looks like a lot of work Chris
> 
> a few comments
> 
> 1, I would love to see some tests for clear writing, which for English
> there are a lot. Are you writing them?
> 2, Not minimizing the real usefulness of this work, a lot of the tests do
> not guarantee conformance or accessibility, but are a useful as a  yard
> stick and as an alarm bell...
> 
> The best yard stick is still testing your interface with people with
> disabilities. It would be a shame for people to reduce the amount of user
> testing.
> I would like to see something along thoughs lines as a footnote on each
> test page.
> 
> 3, puting the two points together. A sentence that has
> a, a low reading age score,
> b, a low number of conjunctions and comers,
> c, is short
> is probably clear and simple.
> 
>  Certainly failing these "testable" criteria is a good alarm bell that you
> may want a rewrite. But to be safe, test with users with Learning
> disabilities
> 
> Keep well
> Lisa Seeman

Gregg Vanderheiden wrote:
> 
> HMM
> 
> What tests for clear writing do you know of Lisa.  Please send thoughts.
> This one has stumped us.  Lots of things to measure but nothing that really
> separates clear from unclear.   Maybe we can't have a 'pass = fail' but we
> could have something that would provide indicators of things that usually
> accompany less clear writing.
> 
> 
> Gregg
> 
>  -- ------------------------------
> Gregg C Vanderheiden Ph.D.
> Professor - Ind. Engr. & BioMed Engr.
> Director - Trace R & D Center
> University of Wisconsin-Madison
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On Behalf
> Of lisa@ubaccess.com
> Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2004 6:36 AM
> To: Chris Ridpath; WAI WCAG List
> Subject: [w3c-wai-gl] <none>
> 
> Looks like a lot of work Chris
> 
> a few comments
> 
> 1, I would love to see some tests for clear writing, which for English
> there are a lot. Are you writing them?
> 2, Not minimizing the real usefulness of this work, a lot of the tests do
> not guarantee conformance or accessibility, but are a useful as a  yard
> stick and as an alarm bell...
> 
> The best yard stick is still testing your interface with people with
> disabilities. It would be a shame for people to reduce the amount of user
> testing.
> I would like to see something along thoughs lines as a footnote on each
> test page.
> 
> 3, puting the two points together. A sentence that has
> a, a low reading age score,
> b, a low number of conjunctions and comers,
> c, is short
> is probably clear and simple.
> 
>  Certainly failing these "testable" criteria is a good alarm bell that you
> may want a rewrite. But to be safe, test with users with Learning
> disabilities
> 
> Keep well
> Lisa Seeman
Received on Wednesday, 13 October 2004 15:15:32 GMT

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