Last Thursday I had the honor of being present at the Arizona court of Appeals Division One Investiture of Randall M. Howe. I've known Randy for years as a fellow board member of Arizona Center for Disability Law, and he was president at the time he was given this honor. The ceremony was held at the Disability Empowerment Center. The center itself is remarkable, and well worth visiting. The ceremony was wonderful: emotionally moving, and (for me) educational. After the ceremony, we went to the reception in the Virginia G. Piper Sports and Fitness Center. We were in one-half of the entire gymnasium, which is a work of art. The entire facility is breathtaking. When I think of people like Virginia Piper and Nina Pulliam who gave so generously to support the community in so many different ways, I stand in awe of them. But I digress. Seeing a person of the caliber of Randy Howe sworn in to the Court of Appeals is a moment I will always treasure. We as citizens are blessed to have Randy Howe on the bench.
I've known Cathy for perhaps five years: we're both on the board of Arizona Center for Disability Law. And we're both on Facebook. Here' a recent video of an interview with her.
I've known Art Gode for a couple of years, and have learned a great deal from him as we sit on the board for Arizona Center for Disability Law. He is very, very gifted at presentation, and a wonderful advocate for his son and others who have disabilities.
This week I took a course in Plain Language at the Disability Empowerment Center in Phoenix, and learned about the Plain Writing Act of 2010. Plain English/Language/Writing isn't about "dumbing down," but rather about clear communication. Among others, those of us who write website content and direct mail copy understand writing to a specific audience, and the new Plain Writing Act is focusing on that. The two day course I took, sponsored by The Arizona Center for Disability Law, was one of the finest seminars I've ever attended. Never did Audrey Riffenburgh speak down to us, and it would have been easy. But by focusing on the viewer/reader constantly, we learned how to analyze writing and formatting, what to avoid and what to use, and how to analyze and create documents that clearly state their purpose for the intended cultural/linguistic audience. We learned how to analyze and re-shape forms, brochures, papers, etc. into documents that make more sense to the reader. But it's much more. Plain Language is finally emerging as a method to let specific groups of people read something they understand according to their particular culture. We learned how to identify the literacy skills of adults in the U.S., and how to define the "mismatch" between consumer literacy skills and the literacy demands of most communications for the public. And it's still much more than I can describe. I see this as extremely valuable for agencies and businesses that can identify their "target readers." The result, at every level, is that time is saved. For everyone. And time is money. Agencies and businesses "get" that. Incidentally, this was just the basic workshop. There is more, and I hope to take advanced courses so I can be of more value to the nonprofit agencies for which I work. Clearly, my mind is spinning with what I've learned, and how to be more specific/efficient/effective in my work with every client I have.