A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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The Access Board

The Access Board is an independent Federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities. It operates with about 30 staff and a governing board of representatives from Federal departments and public members appointed by the President.

Access Board, The. Organizations>Web Design>Accessibility>Government


Accessible Taxes? A Blind Consumer's Experience with the US Tax System

One of the most common, and least enjoyable, experiences of citizens of the United States is that of filing income tax forms. This year, Sachin Pavithran, who is blind, attempted to complete the forms and file them without assistance from sighted friends. Find out whether he was successful or not.

Bohman, Paul, Shane Anderson and Sachin Pavithran. WebAIM (2004). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Government


Ballot Design and Usability

Discusses the importance of usability testing as a final check on ballot layout and instructions text. Many of the problems in the report would likely have been caught with even an informal test. The report highlights a usability testing kit for local election officials, the LEO Usability Testing Kit.

Quesenbery, Whitney. Usability Professionals Association (2008). Articles>Usability>Government


Breaking into Government IT Contracting   (members only)

When I was preparing my transition from employment in Belgium to employment in northern Virginia, friends encouraged me to look at opportunities as an information technology (IT) contractor for the federal government, which relies on contractors to design and deliver IT solutions. For this reason, many companies that build and sell IT systems have entered the lucrative market of outsourcing employees. Since May 2005, I have been employed by four contracting companies and worked at several government agencies. When I started working as a contractor, I discovered that very little is written about the ins and outs of contracting. What I learned came from friends and associates, and their advice helped me understand how to be successful.

Dick, David J. Intercom (2010). Careers>Freelance>Government>Consulting


Building a Constituency Through Outreach   (PDF)

Since government agencies deal with all audiences represented in the population, a variety of communication strategies must be used. One example from work at the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory serves to illustrate this point in reaching out to communicate environmental issues. In this example, interpersonal, community, mass media, and print communication all serve a vital role in building a constituency around one environmental issue.

Carter, Kathy E. STC Proceedings (1994). Careers>TC>Environmental>Government


Case Study: Implementing a Content Management System   (PDF)

This paper presents a case study of implementing a content management system in a federal government setting. This case study may aid technical communicators who are interested in leveraging content management technology and who work for complex organizations or organizations with intricate communications requirements. Included in this paper is a detailed description of the background, approach, and early lessons learned for this implementation. The implementation was still in process at the due date of this paper. Additional lessons learned will be in the presentation's slide set and available from the Society for Technical Communication (STC) website at www.stc.org.

Pettit Jones, Colleen, Jane Mitchko and Marc Overcash. STC Proceedings (2004). Articles>Content Management>Case Studies>Government


The Collaborative Construction of a Management Report in a Municipal Community of Practice: Text and Context, Genre and Learning   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Drawing on rhetorical genre studies and recent work in activity system theory, this study focuses on the collaborative development of a new written form, a municipal plan for protecting and managing natural areas. The author advances a twofold claim: (a) that the written plan is developed in the absence of a stable textual model and (b) that the text, as part of the context, functions, in turn, as a mediational tool for solving the rhetorical problem of audience resistance. Findings show that as participants reconfigure the project into successive cycles of activity, they create corresponding zones of proximal development. This study contributes to our understanding of the dynamics of the text-context relationship and to recent elaborations of genre as an activity system that help explain the relationship between genre and learning.

Wegner, Diana. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2004). Articles>Collaboration>Environmental>Government


Considering Bias in Government Audit Reports: Factors That Influence the Judgments of Internal Government Auditors   (members only)

Government auditors collect data and assess, via written reports, the operations of a government; however, little is known about what can affect and govern their representations of those operations. This analysis examines research studies about author bias and government audit manuals in order to understand how government auditors' neutrality is threatened. While bias may be an overt function of preferential or prejudicial thoughts, most sources of bias that influence auditors derive from less explicit sources including prior expectations, media coverage, nondiagnostic information, and other significantly less direct channels. To determine how government guidelines address this issue for their auditors, the principle audit manuals for Canada and the United States were reviewed for their references to bias, impartiality, and objectivity. Neither manual provides a significant amount of guidance to assist auditors in addressing the problems of bias in data collection, interpretation, and representation. If bias is to be reduced in audit reports, more must be done.

Palmer, Laura A. JBC (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Government>Reports


Designing for Accessibility

Here are some useful tools for people designing accessible websites for the Federal government.

NOAA. Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Government


Did Technical Documentation Play a Role in the White House's Decision to Move to Drupal?

The reasons for the White House's decision to run its Web site, whitehouse.gov, on the open source content management system Drupal are being discussed on various Web sites. Alongside Drupal's functionality, flexibility and openness, some are suggesting that Drupal's documentation was also a key factor for deciding to use this system.

Pratt, Ellis. Cherryleaf (2009). Articles>Documentation>Content Management>Government


A Document Management Case Study: QLD Dept of Housing   (PDF)

How a new spin on document management software helped revolutionise customer service at the Queensland Department of Housing.

Hambly, Natalie. Cherryleaf (2003). Articles>Documentation>Software>Government


e Pluribus Unum? Dialogism and Monologism in Organizational Web Discourse   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article draws on the principles of linguistic theorist Mikhail Bakhtin to analyze and explain discursive diversity in organizational Web pages. Organizational Web sites must typically appeal to multiple audiences, a condition that often results in different discourses being juxtaposed within the same interface. To analyze and explain the effects of such juxtapositions, this article adapts to the Web the principles that Bakhtin developed to conceptualize discursive diversity in the novel, in particular his concept of dialogism. To illustrate their efficacy, the article applies these principles to analyze a pair of government Web sites about forests, the forest industry, and the environment. Whereas the homepages of the two sites project divergent approaches to the discourses of their diverse audiences, a dialogic analysis of the new site's deeper levels reveals how the government's discursive strategy appears to favor one audience at the expense of others. Drawing on this case study, this article discusses how an approach informed by Bakhtin's principles can illuminate our analysis of organizational Web discourse.

Killoran, John B. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2005). Articles>TC>Linguistics>Government


Efficient XML Encoding Town Hall

Binary XML has been a controversial and hotly debated topic in the XML community for many years. The XML 1.x syntax is very flexible and provides a common information representation for a vast array of systems. The XML marketplace has generated a seemingly endless collection of low cost, high quality, rapidly evolving technologies that make creating, sharing, manipulating, securing and accessing information easier. Systems that have adopted XML are cashing in on the economic and interoperability benefits of the XML marketplace. Some believe the introduction of a second, more efficient encoding for XML information would drastically reduce or destroy the flexibility or interoperability benefits of XML.

Rollman, Rich and John Schneider. IDEAlliance (2004). Articles>Information Design>Government>XML


Enterprise XML in Government Regulatory and Legislative Agencies

This presentation is based on a deployed enterprise system designed and integrated to support over 250 plus users for a west coast legislature. The system includes legislative authoring, legislative processing (Introducing, Amending, Enrolling, and Chaptering Bills), document publishing, and updating the State laws.

Vergottini, Grant. IDEAlliance (2004). Articles>Content Management>Government>XML


Evaluating Environmental Impact Statements as Communicative Action   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

An environmental impact statement (EIS) is supposed to ensure that a government agency thoroughly evaluates a project's impacts, studies feasible alternatives, and gives all stakeholders an active role in project-related decisions. Previous rhetorical studies of the EIS describe a failed or subversive genre routinely used to advance the strategic aims of an agency seeking to implement a project despite significant opposition. This article contends that an EIS motivated by a genuinely persuasive purpose can serve as the discursive focus of democratic decision making about major projects and substantially achieve Habermas's norms of communicative action. This may happen, for example, when a local transportation agency develops an EIS for a federal transportation agency. To illustrate this possibility, two EISs involving distinct federal-local relationships in Puerto Rico are evaluated using criteria proposed by John Forester for investigating the degree to which public decision-making processes fulfill Habermas's norms of communicative action.

Dayton, David. STC Proceedings (2002). Articles>Communication>Environmental>Government


The Evolving Roles of Technical Communicators within a Government Project: The Hanford Site   (PDF)

This presentation describes the present-day workplace for technical communicators at the United States Department of Energy's Hanford Site. Factors that are significantly affecting the Hanford Site workplace are identified, with emphasis on the effects of these factors on the workplace activities of Hanford Site technical communication professionals.

Forbes, Christopher J. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>TC>Government


Federal Scientific and Technical Information and the U.S. Competitive Edge   (PDF)

The importance of scientific and technical information stems from its critical role in all phases of the innovation process. These include education, basic research, applied research and development, product development and manufacturing, and the application of science and technology to meet the needs in the commercial, not-forprofit, and governmental markets.

U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment (1990). Articles>Technology>Policies and Procedures>Government


Feminizing the Professional: The Government Reports of Flora Annie Steel   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Despite being raised in a culture that denied her access to formal education and employment, Flora Annie Steel became an Inspector of Female Schools in the Punjab, India, in 1884.  Her inspection reports for the occupying British government of India are the focus of this study, which examines texts within the context of British imperialism and late-nineteenth century report conventions. The study concludes 1) that cultural expectations for women in imperialism influenced Steel's response to the genre and 2) that the report genre may have been fluid within imperialism, crossing boundaries between professional and  government writing pertaining today.  The study suggests that, historically, we need to study these genres of writing from the perspective of economic and political expansion as genres of imperialism.

Sutcliffe, Rebecca J. Technical Communication Quarterly (1998). Articles>Writing>Government>Reports


Freedom of Information Act Fundamentals

FOIA has become an indispensable tool for probing actions of government and the companies and people that come into contact with government. Your catch is only limited by your imagination.

Wilson, Duff. Society of Environmental Journalists (2002). Resources>Legal>Government>Civic


Getting into Government Consulting

From Washington, D.C. to Olympia, Washington, there's a rich potential for user experience consultants of all flavors to provide services to government. In this article I'll share some thoughts directed toward you, the independent consultant or small firm that would like to work with government.

McMullin, Jess. Boxes and Arrows (2002). Careers>Consulting>Government>User Experience


His Master's Voice: Tiro and the Rise of the Roman Secretarial Class   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The foundation for Rome's imperial bureaucracy was laid during the first century B.C., when functional and administrative writing played an increasingly dominant role in the Late Republic. During the First and Second Triumvirates, Roman society, once primarily oral, relied more and more on documentation to get its official business done. By the reign of Augustus, the orator had ceded power to the secretary, usually a slave trained as a scribe or librarian. This cultural and political transformation can be traced in the career of Marcus Tullius Tiro (94 B.C. to 4 A.D.), Cicero's confidant and amanuensis. A freedman credited with the invention of Latin shorthand (the <em>notae Tironianae</em>), Tiro transcribed and edited Cicero's speeches, composed, collected, and eventually published his voluminous correspondence, and organized and managed his archives and library. As his former master s fortune sank with the dying Republic, Tiro s began to rise. After Cicero's assassination, he became the orator's literary executor and biographer. His talents were always in demand under the new bureaucratic regime, and he prospered by producing popular grammars and secretarial manuals. He died a wealthy centenarian and a full Roman citizen.

Di Renzo, Anthony. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2000). Articles>TC>Government>History


How to Work with U.S. Government Agencies and Obtain Requests for Proposals (RFPs)

A collection of resources for people interested in writing grant proposals toward U.S. government agencies.

Kluge, Deborah L. Proposalwriter.com (2005). Resources>Grants>Proposals>Government


The Impact of XML on the Processes and Efficiencies of the Federal Government

The focus of this paper and the presentation will be to discuss how XML has changed and improved the legislative and regulatory document creation and management processes for agencies of the federal government. During the presentation, we will briefly describe the evolution of XML adaptation in the Legislative Branch agencies. A more in depth discussion can be found at xml.house.gov.

Schulke, Edward. IDEAlliance (2004). Articles>Information Design>Government>XML


It's More Than E-Mail: An Overview Of Inter-Networking   (PDF)

Although global computer networks have existed for many years, they have grown explosively only in the last few—particularly the one called the Internet. ARPANET, the forerunner of these network, was set up to aid communication between the government and people doing defense research in universities and industry. The network got a major boost in the late 1980s when the National Science Foundation created NSFNET, linking the five NSF supercomputer centers with networks at university campuses and the ARPANET. Continuing advances in reliability, speed, capacity, and ease of access have made the Internet an international medium for information exchange.

Hibbard, Jeffrey L. and Eric J. Ray. STC Proceedings (1994). Articles>Collaboration>Online>Government


It's Not What You Know: A Transactive Memory Analysis of Knowledge Networks at NASA   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Much of America was stunned into mourning on February 1, 2003 as the space shuttle Columbia was reported to have broken up over Texas. The ensuing investigation revealed that debris at liftoff was the cause of the crash, but the official report suggested that NASA's organizational communication was just as much to blame. This article uses transactive memory theory to argue that there were significant gaps in the knowledge network of NASA organizational members, and those gaps impeded information flow regarding potential disaster. E-mails to and from NASA employees were examined (the 'To' and 'From' fields) to map a network of communication related to Columbia's damage and risk. Although NASA personnel were connected with each other in this incident-based network, the right information did not get to the people who needed it. The article concludes with extensions of theory and practical implications for organizations, including NASA.

Garner, Johnny T. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2006). Articles>Knowledge Management>Scientific Communication>Government



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