A report from ASTC (NSW) 2011 day 2 afternoon

I’m at the 2011 conference of the Australian Society for  Technical Communication (ASTC), New South Wales branch. Over the last couple of days I’ve been blogging about the conference sessions. Here are my notes from the afternoon of day 2. I hope you enjoy them.

Project Management – Plan, Do, Check, Act, by Julie McKibbin

In this session, Julie McKibbin took a look at the project management life cycle and the critical path. Then she examined why it is important to technical writers. Julie was inventive in her use of materials. She used presentation slides, a flip chart and a whiteboard, all at once. It was also a very interactive session, with lots of audience participation. We did an exercise on planning the preparation of a roast dinner, including listing the ingredients, defining the critical path and creating a flow chart. One of the teams (from the back of the room, of course) had an amusing flow chart with multiple contingency plans that involved meals at Mackers and going hunting.

IT accessibility, by Richard Hodgkinson

Richard Hodgkinson talked about accessibility for ICT, and why it’s important in technical communication. He discussed the needs of elderly people or disabled people in what is fast becoming an eSociety. The eSociety assumes that we all have access to electronic services. This is not always the case. Remembering and managing multiple passwords is difficult.

It is possible to design for these needs. A good example is the Sagem VS3 mobile phone brought out by Vodaphone a few years ago. It was simple, with clear displays and only the basic functionality as required in a phone.

Richard walked us through the existing standards and guidelines for accessibility design, of which there are a number.

Documentation is important in this arena. Think of the setup guides for various household appliances. Keep it simple, provide only the information that is needed, use media that have accessbility features. Document the accessibility aspects of the documentation too. Widget and Makaton are symbol languages that are available for use in instructions for multilingual and accessible requirements.

Death by PowerPoint, by Frank Munday

Frank “Choco” Munday presented the final session of the day. He was introduced with the words, “be prepared to have your socks knocked off!” Choco’s session was all about how to design PowerPoint presentations so that they are not a cause of death. He delivered the presentation in typical exuberant style. Just the ticket for a closing session.

Til next time

See you at ASTC (NSW) 2012!


About Sarah Maddox

Technical writer, author and blogger in Sydney

Posted on 29 October 2011, in ASTC, technical writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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