Addressing an Audience (was: paperless?)

Subject: Addressing an Audience (was: paperless?)
From: doug montalbano <doug_montalbano -at- CC -dot- CHIRON -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 31 Jan 1995 10:26:53 PST

Rich Lippincott, in the course of uh-ohing Michael Priestly's
suggestion about speech synthesis of text, made a good point:

>>There is a distinct difference in the writing style between
>>"ear copy" and "read copy" writing styles. This is something
>>that is taught to broadcast journalism students. The reason is
>>that when reading, the eye can pause over words, the receiver
>>(reader) can control the rate at which the information flows
>>from the page/screen into the brain. When listening, that
>>infomration rate is controlled by the sender.


>>We're trained in clear communication, but I have a hunch most of
>> us aren't up for having our manuals translated directly to
>> audio. I could be wrong: give it a try. Read a procedure to
>>a person unfamiliar with your product, see if they comprehend as
>> well as if they had a written page.

Not only that, but I believe there really is a difference in the
organization of a spoken and a written text. If the List could
stand yet another Deaf anecdote from me, read on.

I was born hearing, learned English as a native, and was able to
read by the time I started school. I lost my hearing gradually
soon afterward. To make a long and irrelevant story somewhat
short, I went to college at Gallaudet -- the only 4-year liberal
arts college for deaf people in the world. There I had to not only
write papers, but present them to the class using sign language. I
quickly realized I would have to write TWO papers: one written in
English for the instructor to read, and one to present to a group,
using American Sign Language (ASL). The written one was easier for
me to do than the "oral" one, given my background; for most of the
class (pre-lingually deaf), the reverse was true. But many of my
classmates, for whatever reason (which I suspect has to do with
linguistic colonialism), chose to "orally" present the same paper
that they wrote. Since American Sign Language is organized
completely differently from English, it made for some truly awkward
presentations as they tried to cram their English word order into
meaningful signing.

This experience has convinced me that you should always vary your
presentation according to your modality as well as according to
your audience. This is one reason why I would (if I had to write
online help) write online help separately from any written
instructions; further, I would organize it completely differently
from a paper text.

Sorry to ramble on. Clearly several threads on the List have been
bugging me and have come together here....

Doug_Montalbano -at- cc -dot- chiron -dot- com No sig, no disclaimer

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