Documenting procedures with photos?

Subject: Documenting procedures with photos?
From: Geoffrey Hart <Geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Wed, 17 Mar 1999 09:32:37 -0500

Robert Maxey is <<...responsible for creating technical
procedures used on a variety of production lines, and
photographs are the only thing that does not need to be

Although you raise an important point, you have to be careful
about how far you take that point; even photographs need
certain types of translation. For example:
- Does the object being photographed contain text that will
vary between audiences? (e.g., the American vs. the Japanese
labeling scheme)
- Will you have audiences that read right to left or top to
bottom, so that the English "left to right" sequence fails? (e.g.,
Japanese or Hebrew readers)
- Are there cultural constraints to be wary of? (e.g., male vs.
female models, ethnicity of models)
... and so on.

<<For example, if the production worker has never seen a
printed circuit board, and I am asking him to inspect for this or
that, what do they think I am asking, if a simple arrow is
pointing to the inspection areas?>>

The solution in that case is to use a single, labeled photo for
all audiences (with the caveats listed above), and provide a
figure caption that explains what to do.

<<How do others out there handle the creation of a document
that a non-English speaking person can understand?>>

We translate the document and, if necessary, localize it too.
Sorry if that sounds facetious, but I'm not aware of any way
around the dilemma you propose. You can certainly minimize
your translation burden by replacing text with graphics, but
you'll rarely eliminate translation entirely, and particularly so
if you are moving between cultures; for example, a Spanish-
speaking North American will probably get by with a
relatively simple revision of the North American version (e.g.,
with Spanish text replacing English), but a South American or
European speaker of Spanish may have a different enough
cultural context to require a significantly different approach.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Patience comes to those who wait."--Anon.

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