Technical communication audiences are increasingly international and intercultural. Some of these audiences may be vulnerable and suffering trauma following violations of their human rights and dignity. In such cases, technical documents can serve to reinforce the oppression experienced by these audiences. Technical communicators must adapt and create methods to communicate ethically and responsibly with these audiences through a social justice lens. This thesis utilizes adapted plain language guidelines from plainlanguage.gov combined with human-centered design (“HCD”) guiding principles to perform a qualitative document analysis of technical government forms. The findings of this analysis demonstrate a need for continued integration of plain language and HCD in practice and pedagogy, research and pedagogy surrounding the ways technical communicators should balance the needs of vulnerable audiences with the interests of powerful stakeholders, and meaningful collaboration between technical communicators and government institutions.
Date of Degree
Master of Arts (MA)
Arts and Humanities
Sims, M. (2020). Overcoming tools of oppression: Plain language and human-centered design for social justice [Master’s thesis, Minnesota State University, Mankato]. Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works for Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/etds/1054
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