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

From: Avi Arditti <aardit@voa.gov>
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 2004 12:26:18 -0400
Message-ID: <416D572A.8314CC4F@voa.gov>
To: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
CC: Chris Ridpath <chris.ridpath@utoronto.ca>, lisa@ubaccess.com, WAI WCAG List <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Hi John, 

My friend Dr. Annetta Cheek was a guest of the Mexican government for
the launch of the "people's language" campaign. With her permission, I
am forwarding the report she sent to her bosses in the U.S. government: 

... The Secretary of Public Function (a relatively new organization in
the government) is sponsoring most of these initiatives.  They are
starting a major plain language initiative, and invited several
international guests for a kick-off week.  I was there along with a
linguist from the government of Sweden, a linguist from academia in
Spain, and a plain language advocate from the Plain Language Commission
in Britain, a private sector organization.

It was a terrific few days.  Aside from the fact that they were great
hosts, it was exciting to see an attempt to start a plain language
initiative with support from the very top of the government.  On Monday,
the four international guests spent the day attending the Mexican
government's first plain language workshop.  They asked us to comment on
the workshop to make it better.

On Tuesday, we took part in an event from 10 to 2:30.  In addition to
our panel, there were speakers from the Mexican government and a short
video of support from President Fox.  We were speaking to a crowd of
about 1000 government managers. The four international guests were very
pleased about how well our talks all fit together to make a whole, and
we hadn't even collaborated on it.  The government sponsors were also
very pleased about how it turned out.

On Wed. we spoke to a small group of academics, to try to convince them
it was important to teach good, clear writing in academia from the
earliest grades.

Aside from the terrific support this is getting from the government, the
most exciting part of the trip was learning that all four international
experts agreed on what techniques are important to plain language.  I
had expected that, since Spanish is a more formal language than English,
they would not be trying for sentences with an average of 20 words,
eliminating passive voice, and using pronouns.  But both the professor
from Spain and the workshop developed in Mexico advocated these
principles, as did the representatives from UK and Sweden.  

Everyone also agreed on a number of other techniques, including focusing
on the audience, structuring the document carefully, designing the
document for an easy to read appearance, using informative headings,
using tables and lists, and so on.  It was exciting to see the agreement
within the international community, and talk to folks from different
countries who are involved in plain language efforts.



John M Slatin wrote:
> 
> In a few days I will be starting work on General Techniques for
> Guideline 3.1. I'll start by combing the WCAG and IG lists for comments
> on this one, and talking with colleagues in various modern language
> departments here and elsewhere. One important goal will be to come up
> with techniques that make sense not just for English but for other
> languages, especially non-Western languages. I invite those of you who
> have expertise in those languages to share your knowledge and insight.
> 
> I'm especially interested in learning about textbooks on writing and/or
> other manuals, style guides, etc., for languages other than English.  In
> the United States there is a large body of theoretical and practical
> research on writing and writing instruction, and there are many
> textbooks and guides.  There it will be helpful to locate such things
> for other countries and languages-- and important to be mindful of the
> limitations, such as languages and cultures where comparable texts
> either don't exist or are much less common.
> 
> I'm also interested in hearing from anyone who knows of readability
> tests for languages other than English. Ditto for plain language
> lexicons in languages other than English.
> 
> Thanks.
> John
> 
> "Good design is accessible design."
> John Slatin, Ph.D.
> Director, Accessibility Institute
> University of Texas at Austin
> FAC 248C
> 1 University Station G9600
> Austin, TX 78712
> ph 512-495-4288, f 512-495-4524
> email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu
> web http://www.utexas.edu/research/accessibility/
> 
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On
> Behalf Of Chris Ridpath
> Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2004 8:48 am
> To: lisa@ubaccess.com; WAI WCAG List
> Subject: Re: [w3c-wai-gl] <none>
> 
> > I would love to see some tests for clear writing...
> >
> This is a tricky one. I believe that there are tests for clear writing
> but, to be accurate, they require a large amount of expert involvement.
> There's also a very basic test, the FOG index, that gives a  rough
> indication of writing style. Right now, I'm not sure how we're going to
> test for this.
> 
> I can perceive this requirement, clear writing, as an infringement on a
> person's right to freedom of expression so it may be difficult to
> enforce.
> 
> > 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 goal of the test suite is that it can be used to test HTML content
> to see if it conforms to the guidelines. I hope we can come close to
> reaching that goal.
> 
> Once the test suite is finished, I'd like to challenge authors to create
> pages that pass the test suite but are still have accessibility
> problems. And challenge authors to create pages fail the test suite but
> are still accessible. This process should help ensure the test suite is
> valid.
> 
> > 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.
> >
> This seems to be heading in the right direction for it to be testable.
> But it would still require an expert to examine the text. Is this the
> sort of thing that guideline 3.1 means?
> 
> Cheers,
> Chris
> 
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: <lisa@ubaccess.com>
> To: "Chris Ridpath" <chris.ridpath@utoronto.ca>; "WAI WCAG List"
> <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
> Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2004 7:35 AM
> 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 16:28:20 GMT

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