Spilka, Chapters 7 & 8

The section of chapter 8 in Spilka that I found most applicable to my life would be the area where obtaining and responding to reader feedback is discussed. The chapter pertains to addressing an audience in a digital age, and since we rarely reach our audiences via face to face interaction, it is important for us to find new ways to offer and receive input on our writings and research. In my job, we provide and sell hearing aids to hearing impaired individuals. With each hearing aid comes an instruction manual written by the manufacturer. Since the majority of our patients are elderly or physically disabled, the instruction manuals can be quite daunting and hard to understand as well as utilize with their hearing devices. For Audiologists, the manuals seem basic and easy to use, however, they also are highly educated in the area to begin with. In this way, the manufacturers who write, edit, and print these instruction manuals did not consider their audience. Yes audiologists and experienced professionals can interpret the information, but the users, for the most part, cannot. Due to this lack of patient understanding, the majority of the time the patients end up calling us with questions or else they make an appointment to address the issues they are having with their hearing aids. The technology used within our practice is so advanced, and yet the patients are usually intimidated by the technology and feel inferior to it. It is ironic since by purchasing hearing aids the patient is basically buying a set of computers for their ears! I often wonder if we were able to have some say in how the manuals are written and published if our patients would be less intimidated by the technology and thus feel more comfortable with it, meaning less follow up appointments and frustrated patients. I guess it goes to show that technology and the “digital age” can be both a blessing and a curse.

Posted on November 10, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Rachel—

    Bad instructions drive me nuts. When I was a tech. writer and I was pretty much only writing instructions for users, I would always try to write the best instructions possible. The problem that I kept running into is the company (i.e. management) would either tell me to make my instructions shorter or just write them to meet the minimum requirements. The reason they did this is because everything revolves around time and money. Shorter instructions should take less time and they save money when it comes to printing costs and resources to create them. The most challenging part about my job was creating content for end users that I knew was not good enough for them or that was not going to help them at all.

  2. Having more say in the instructional manual would definitely change things! Why the people in charge neglect to remember the varied audiences is beyond me. And, like you mention, it leads to either tons of complaints or your office having to create its own set of instructions or FAQ sheet for the customers.

    I think you mentioned the place where you work having a Twitter account or Facebook page. Do they take some of these questions in those forums? I ask because that might illustrate more of the blessing side to things rather than the curse!

  3. Ha, but will the elderly patients use the Twitter and Facebook accounts? 🙂

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