March 2020 News

Welcome to the EwK Services update for March! This month we’re talking about the emotional side of online accessibility, tricky translations, and the mistakes that we don’t notice because we have got so used to seeing them.

Accessibility

I like to talk about problems and solutions. I give actionable tips. What I rarely do is talk about my own feelings when things go wrong for me as someone who not only teaches people about web accessibility, but who relies on sites being designed well so that I can complete the simplest of tasks independently. So the article “the F word in online accessibility – frustration” is more of a personal look at this topic. It also links to some really interesting research that has been done to gather the opinions and experiences of a wide range of disabled internet users.

If you want to see some actionable tips for making your site, social media or training more accessible to blind people, you can request my 40 actionable tips via my accessibility page.

Translation

Translating documents is a bit like doing a puzzle. You need to use all of the pieces and put them together in a way that they all fit.

But the job of a translator isn’t to take every single word in a text and translate it, like for like, into the other language.

I think this point is demonstrated really well in this article from the Guardian that asks the question “what happens if you have no word for dinosaur?”

If you need a text to be translated, you need to find someone who is familiar with both languages, and even better, the target reader’s culture, so that they can find an alternative for words that don’t exist, or a way of explaining a concept in a way that will be relevant and make sense.
After all – even small errors are still errors – as we saw recently when a shop offered free alcohol instead of alcohol-free drinks.

I offer German to English translations. If you want to know more, you can check out my translations page.

Communication

Giving presentations – preparing for people to ask questions

Often people spend a lot of time writing their slides and making sure they can give a good presentation. If you’re going to have a Q&A session afterwards though, it can be useful to think about what kind of questions people might want to ask, and how you will answer them. I’ve listed some things to consider in my blog post about preparing for questions after your presentation.

Communication tip- Be careful with things that you see every day!

There is a shopping website that I use regularly. For a number of months, there was a typing error in the tagline, which unfortunately for the site owner was replicated on every single page.

I noticed it every time I visited the site!

Someone must have fixed it, because the error is gone now. But sometimes we can be so used to seeing something, that we don’t notice the mistake.

If you have a blog or website, or if you regularly use templates for emails, invoices or letters, make sure that you haven’t got so used to seeing a mistake that you now overlook it.

Similarly, I saw an email signature recently with a typing error in the person’s job title. That person may be great at what they do, but the main thing I came away with was that the word business wasn’t written correctly in their signature, and it didn’t look very professional.

We can all make typing errors, but every single email that this person sends will have an incorrect spelling on it unless it is fixed. Sometimes it’s worth checking things like this to make sure they represent you in the best possible way.

Proofreading

It’s always important to proofread your work! Not just because people might think you may be less professional if they find mistakes, but it can be costly too, as shown by this article in the Telegraph about a £3 million scheme that is now being talked about because of a spelling mistake.

Have you ever made a typing error or spelling mistake that was seen by many people? I’ve never done anything as expensive as the mistake mentioned in the article, but I did send out an email to the whole of HR with an offensive word because my fingers were faster than my brain and I had missed out a letter. To make it worse, the offensive word was in the dictionary, so it didn’t get flagged by the spellcheck.

Sometimes these things happen because we’re in a hurry and we want to get the email sent off. That was the reason for my embarrassing email to the rest of my department. However, at other times, it happens because we are so familiar with the piece of work. Maybe it’s a book or some learning materials that we have been working hard on for weeks. We’re happy with the content, sure we haven’t missed anything, but we have overlooked a typo for the 20th time that stands out to another person straight away. We’re just too used to the material.

Due to current uncertainties around travel and face-to-face meetings, now may be a time when we’re communicating more and more online. If you would like a second opinion on any blog articles, newsletters, or texts for social media content, why not take a look at my proofreading service.

Would your friends enjoy the newsletter?

If you think they would, they can visit the newsletter page and sign up for their own copy.