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I prefer to see this issue handled during the requirements analysis phase. Unfortunately, that is often six months or a year before the technical writing staff learn of the existence of the project. I would recommend that you try to get included in the initial planning for every project. It may take a lot of work to accomplish that, especially if all the design happens in some place that's far from where you are. In my experience the tech writer's initial approach to the problem is seen as meddling. "Your job is documentation, not design," I've been told.
It can help if you offer to write up the requirements and design specs in an easily understood form. Question anything you don't understand--chances are there's someone else who doesn't understand it either. You'll then have the opportunity to ask, "What are the plans for designing the UI, and for testing the UI text? How will we be sure the UI is acceptable to *native* speakers of English, Russian, French, German, Spanish and Italian (or whatever), as well as Polish?" There won't be any such plans, of course, and you'll have to help the rest of the team to overcome their waving of hands in dismissal and their self-congratulatory assurances that everything will be ok.
> As a Tech Writer in the software industry, I also have the wonderful role of editing text within my company's application (produced in a non-English speaking country).
> The problem is we don't have a formal step in our development flow for this - I just catch what I see when I'm documenting UI, etc.
> Do any of you have a formal editing step for menus and other test within your appications during development?
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