RE: Grade-level writing - tool suggestions?

Subject: RE: Grade-level writing - tool suggestions?
From: Mailing List <mlist -at- ca -dot- rainbow -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2004 10:57:30 -0500

Dick Margulis [mailto:margulis -at- fiam -dot- net] suggested:
> Hughes, Linda wrote:

> > A "Provider Manual" for one of our ventilator units is
> written for a medically-trained audience. Not
> super-technical, but certainly high-school to college level.
> We need to rework the manual and reduce it to a 7th grade
> reading level for use by homecare patients and their families.

> Is this a situation where you have to comply with a regulation by
> showing an agency inspector a report from a piece of software
> that the
> manual is written at a seventh-grade level? If so, then I understand
> your need for a recommendation.

> If it is instead a matter of satisfying your customers' needs
> (that is,
> an internally driven requirement), I think you might do
> better just to
> "be the ball" and do the editing with eyes, brain, and
> fingers and then
> do some usability testing with a few people grabbed off the street.

Either way, I recommend doing an actual re-write, with brain

If you are required to meet some "objective" [haaaahahahahahahaaaaaa]
standard, to please some bureaucrat, then just do the job to the
best of your ability and push the measurement task back onto the
person who makes/oversees the demands.

That is, if there is an explicit contractual requirement for
YOU to buy specific software and generate a specific readout
in a specific format, etc., etc., then you have already included
the cost of acquiring that software (and training?) in your
budget estimate, have you not?

But if the contracting entity has not specified:
- the exact standard you must meet,
- how it will be measured, and
- your part in that measurement,
then it is their problem, and you are only taking on grief
if you volunteer to make it your problem.

If an inspector/contract-manager asks for the proof of
compliance, you say:

"Here is the completed/revised document. I can provide it
in any of these other formats (plain text, Word, RTF, HTML....)
if those are better suited to YOUR measuring software.
And I'd like a copy of the readout, please."

If they can't tell, just by looking at it, that your work
meets the requirement, then they must be submitting your
work to SOMETHING that does the determination for them, yes?
That SOMETHING is either a piece of software, which they
must have, or it's a committee or a tame editor who does
their reviewing.

Does the contract require that you own a copy of the same
measurement SOMETHING? If it's software, then they need
to specify precisely. If it's an editor... hey, hire the
same editor to get you ready for her/his final review. :-)

/kevin (being practical about the whole thing)

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