Embracing Plain Language for Better Accessibility: TechAccessOK 2018

Posted on Tuesday, 10 July 2018 by Ashley Bischoff

I just got back from the TechAccessOK conference, which is a two-day conference on accessibility that’s put on by the Assistive Technology Act Program for Oklahoma. The conference organizer, Rob Carr, invited me to speak, and I had a wonderful time.

I gave a talk on how plain language can help us get our point across to readers and, perhaps more importantly, how plain language can make our content more accessible. Because at the end of the day, no matter how technically correct a document may be, our words won’t do much good if those who are reading them can’t understand what we’re trying to say.

Most people can only comfortably read writing that’s 4 to 5 years below their maximum education level. So for instance, for someone who’s graduated from high school, which would be 12 years of education, they’d probably be able to comfortably read documents that are written at a grade 8 or grade 9 reading level. (This also aligns well with WCAG 3.1.5 / Reading Level.)

“So how can I check the reading level of documents that I’ve written?” you might ask. The answers to that and more are in the slides for my talk, which are available online. And if you might have any questions about this sort of thing, feel free to drop me a line and I’d be happy to chime in.

About Ashley Bischoff

Ashley Bischoff is an accessibility analyst and copy editor at The Paciello Group. With her expertise across assistive technologies and front-end baubles stretching back to the days of Netscape 4, Ashley has the chops to make accessibility work. And with her copy editor’s pen in hand, Ashley keeps her eyes peeled for buried verbs and dangling modifiers while she wrangles stray homophones.


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