China Looks to Documentation Standards Development

Standardization, Educational Opportunities, Collaboration Focus of Tech Comm Symposium in China

Representatives of international technical communication associations gathered to discuss documentation standards, collaboration, and educational opportunities at the International Symposium on Developing Standards for Instructions for Use of Products of Consumer Interest at the Grand Milea Hotel in Shijiazhuang, China, on September 8 and 9, 2012.

The conference, hosted by the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) and co-organized by China Association for Standardization (CAS), Japan Technical Communicators Association (JTCA) and the German professional association for Technical Communication (tekom), focused on the exchange of information in China as well as in the international community, as China works towards documentation standards for product information across markets and emerging economies.

The two-day event launched with an opening ceremony and addresses delivered by Ji Zhengkun, Kuroda Satoshi and Dr. Michael Fritz. The addresses kicked off an international round table attended by the heads of the international associations of technical communication: tekom (Germany), JTCA (Japan), TWIN (India), STC (USA), KTCA (Korea), Com& Tec (Italy), tecom (Switzerland), and CAS from China. The international representatives discussed topics ranging from survey data, to standardization, to education opportunities.

“In my view, the education topic was the most interesting. We shared information about education and training opportunities for tech writers in our respective countries,” said Gururaj BS, from the Technical Writers of India (TWIN).

“The round table has given all participants an important insight view on how a collaborative approach between different national TC associations can reach outstanding results in the TC field as a whole and more specifically in the TC profession,” noted Dr. Ottavio Ricci, President of COM & TEC in Italy. “Notwithstanding the key successes in the standardization process obtained on an international level much has still to be done and the open attitude shown by the Chinese delegates is the most promising step towards a real global network.”

China delegates to documentation standards symposium

Attendees of the recent Developing Standards for Instructions for Use of Products of Consumer Interest in Shijiazhuang,China

The Symposium featured 13 presentations by key industry experts on technical communication topics. Dr. Isin Oner, president of Diye Global Communications explained the importance of Terminology Design for building corporate identity. Dr. Ricci presented on the translation process and localization in technical communication.

“The translation and localization process has undergone many changes and is reaching the point of a structured network of high quality results. As shown in my presentation, this process is embedded in a broader landscape where industrial policies, marketing strategies, product liabilities, translation and localization training evaluations are part and parcel of the multilingual technical communication process.

As China and the whole Asian region become a strong export-oriented economy, the market leaders have to be aware that translation and localization issues are of paramount importance. The experience in this field gives our associations a winning edge that we can offer our partners and industry decision-makers as a valuable asset, in order to guarantee them a smooth communication process in a highly structured and demanding consumer market.”

Dr. Michael Fritz, president of tekom, outlined the European legal regulations and standards in technical communications, while Feng Wei from the China National Institute of Standardization (CNIS) introduced the Chinese standards for instructions for use.

Akash Dubey from TWIN remarked “We observed that technical writing in China was very standards-driven. Writers were seeking very specific guidelines from presenters on various standards and how they can comply with those standards.”

Other presentations related to a predominant theme of the conference—the  international use of the English language. Kim Yangsook, from the Korean Technical Communication Association (KTCA) spoke of teaching technical writing to non-native English speakers, and she also discussed the hiring challenges which Korean companies face in finding native English-speaking managers.

“I spoke about language (English) issues that bother non-native speakers of the language. I tried to explain to the non-native speakers how they should try to learn the language, so they can write or speak in English easily. I took the number of dialects in English (US and UK) as an example to tell them what they should focus on.” explained Gururaj BS.

Overall, the conference served as a very interesting platform of information exchange and we wait to see how the development of technical communication will occur in China in the future.

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