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The Indiana Chapter Chapter Conferences: More than Workshops (continued) As you know, when attending any conference, our opportunities to expand our professional network lay easily at our feet. So, instead of merely attending a workshop, getting our credits, and leaving, I encourage all of us to consider a new (or not so new) perspective on the activities of this medical writing organization – go beyond acquiring workshop credits. Each of us come from different backgrounds, with diverse approaches to writing/editing medical documents and managing the associated writing teams, and various levels of experience. Combined, the members of AMWA represent a wealth of knowledge and experience. So, the next time you find yourself sitting in a room full (or not so full) of workshop participants, remind yourself to tap into this knowledge. Then when you’ve reminded yourself of this, turn to the person and tap away! Consider asking such questions as, “On what kind of documents to do you work? What do you find most challenging about that particular document? What is a valuable lesson you’ve learned recently?” Of course, make sure you are ready to respond to these same questions, as well. In this way, we all will come away from each AMWA activity with a broader perspective of medical writing/editing and potentially a great new approach to motivating an unresponsive decisionmaker or pulling a definitive conclusion from your writing team. While engaging in these networking activities, let us remember that, as AMWA members, we also are responsible for sharing our knowledge. With the start of a new year, now is an excellent time to consider ways in which you could more formally share your knowledge with fellow AMWA members. If you do not know where to begin, start by reviewing the articles in this newsletter, particularly ones from our Chapter President (page 1 and page 3). Also, look at what your fellow members are doing (page 2). Finally, if you have other ideas for involvement, and are unsure whether such an activity would be of interest or would like to be involved at a more national level, simply contact a fellow chapter member or our Chapter’s President to obtain their thoughts on your suggestions. Once you start asking, you will better understand how your talents apply to the diverse activities of AMWA! In short, our Chapter Conferences can be made much richer by the activities we initiate before and after workshops. So, let’s not “sit back, relax, and enjoy the workshop”. Instead, let’s ensure we consistently are alert and poised for proactive engagement with the fellow writers and editors beside us.

AMWA Indiana Chapter Newsletter December 2008

Your Global Audience is Already Here -Report from the June Chapter Meeting Elaine Crabtree

Figuring out how to get communicate with non-English speakers (when English is the only language you can use), might seem impossible, but Ann Zdunczyk gave us some ideas at the 24 June 2008 chapter meeting. She was in Indianapolis to speak at the Documentation and Training (DocTrain) Life Sciences 2008 Conference, and came to the chapter meeting to give a short version of her presentation “Your Global Audience is Already Here: How to Create Content that Communicates with non-English Speakers at Home and Abroad.” As a professional translator, technical writer, desktop publisher, and owner of a2z Publishing, Inc., Ann is wellqualified to discuss the fine points of getting ideas across to non-English speakers. Whether you do business locally or internationally, nonEnglish speakers are potential customers, Ann said. In this country, large numbers of city hospital staffs are non-native English speakers, and training programs designed to prevent post-Baby Boomer labor shortages are bringing immigrants into more medical and technical jobs. For example, a 2005 study of California’s immigrant workers showed that 62% of medical scientists, 35% of nurses, and 33% of dental assistants were immigrants. To ensure that these professionals get all the information they need to do their jobs, Ann recommended, among other things, using Simplified English, “a controlled language...[that] offers a carefully limited and standardized subset of English” words. This improves understanding for non-native speakers, and helps them learn the language more easily. Two types of software that can help you produce texts in Simplified English are Acrolinx ( and MaxIt ( Check her web site ( under “Tips and Tricks” and “Links” for help with design and information on useful software and ideas for translation, Word tricks, and PDFs.

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December 2008