Re: What if they can't spell?

Subject: Re: What if they can't spell?
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 03 Sep 2001 13:02:23 -0700

Bevan Mccabe wrote:


I was thinking, there's a lot of people out there who can't spell. Can we
account for them when designing help systems and manuals?

This is an interesting technical question, but maybe the question isn't whether we can, but whether we should?

That might sound callous, but in the interests of space and usability for the average reader, writers have to make assumptions about their audiences all the time. Although I can envision exceptions based on the audience, I wonder whether, in most cases, those assumptions include a basic ability to spell.

What would happen in this situation? Would a user get frustated, give up
and call support? Or would they realise they spelt the word wrong and try

Maybe an index,in itself, assumes literacy skills: not only correct spelling, but the concept of alphabetical order, summary, and the ability to concentrate on the written word. I wonder whether a person who had serious problems with spelling would be inclined or, in extreme cases, even able to use an index in the first place. Instead of using the index, they'd probably phone for support the moment they had trouble.

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

"We feel the breeze from the storm to come,
And up and down this coast
We're waiting for the wheel to turn."
-Capercaillie, "Clearances"


A landmark hotel, one of America's most beautiful cities, and three and a half days of immersion in the state of the art:
IPCC 01, Oct. 24-27 in Santa Fe.

+++ Miramo -- Database/XML publishing automation. See us at +++
+++ Seybold SFO, Sept. 25-27, in the Adobe Partners Pavilion +++
+++ More info: +++

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

What if they can't spell?: From: Bevan Mccabe

Previous by Author: Re: Advice
Next by Author: Re: Diverse Tools (was HTML editors)
Previous by Thread: Re: What if they can't spell?
Next by Thread: Re: What if they can't spell?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads