Let's tech communicate

November 2022

We’ve got a lot on the list for you this month! But first, do you have something to share? We’re always on the hunt for useful and interesting links for our members.

Contact our comms co-ordinator or message us on Slack if you have something to share for this column.

Writing style

Language, Please - a style guide

Do you need to write about sensitive social, cultural and identity-related topics? Would you appreciate a sense check on what's appropriate and respectful to your audience? Here's a style guide (from the United States) for you! Language, Please covers:

  • borders and populations
  • class and social standing
  • disabilities, neurodiversity and chronic illness
  • gender and sexuality
  • mental health, trauma and substance use
  • race and ethnicity.

It also has a section dedicated to editorial tools, and if you create a login you can access a directory of readers with expertise in specific subject areas.

Bookmark this incredible resource!

Language, Please – a style guide

Artificial intelligence (AI) for writing

Do you really need to write that blog yourself?

Writing is a core skill in the field of technical communication. Between Grammarly and AI copywriting apps like copy.ai - do you even need to know how to write anymore? Have a look at this free AI writing app and see what you think.

Copy.ai content generator

Do formulas, programs and tools work for plain language?

Research from as far back as the '80s suggests readability formulas, programs and tools aren't useful when it comes to plain language writing. This article clearly explains why!

Readability formulas, programs and tools: Do they work for plain language?

Accessible content

Our accessibility guru from the conference, Katherine Barcham, recommends these handy links. Thanks, Katherine!

Intopia’s accessibility not-checklist

We shared this one recently, but it’s worth another look. The not-checklist helps make sure you haven’t missed anything when creating accessible content. It’s quick and easy to use, and you can sort by topic or role.

Accessibility not-checklist

W3C’s guidelines for usable content

This guide has you covered when writing for people with cognitive and learning disabilities. It includes user stories and personas, design guidance and advice on testing, focus groups and feedback. Make sure you have all bases covered!

Making content usable for people with cognitive and learning disabilities

Content Design London’s readability guidelines

This is an award-winning, global readability guide based on usability evidence. It’s in an easy-to-use, wiki-style format. It allows comments and questions, and links you to the usability evidence. Handy!

Readability guidelines from Content Design London

Disability language matters!

Here’s some advice from a number of leading New Zealand organisations on disability language.

Disability language – Ministry of Social Development (MSD)

This is the MSD’s advice on why words matter when talking to and about disabled people. It covers why we use the term 'disabled people' in New Zealand, tips to help you and the people you're communicating with feel comfortable, words to use, and words to avoid. A great nugget of advice!

Disability language – words matter (MSD)

Language matters – CCS Disability Action

This is CCS Disability Actions' take on why language matters for disabled people. It's an insightful collection of conversation starters, created by disabled people. They aim to help us think more carefully about the words we use and how they shape the way people think about and understand each other.

Language matters - CCS Disability Action

Disability language – digital.govt.nz

This is digital.govt.nz's advice on using disability language. It explains the different models of disability language and also includes tips, words to use, and words to avoid.

Disability language - digital.govt.nz

Level up your te reo Māori learning

How to overcome barriers in learning te reo Māori

We're sure many of us can relate to the fear-based challenges this article outlines for people wanting to learn te reo Māori. Māori language lecturer Rapata Wiri arms us with some tips to break through, and some excellent phrases to get started. Seriously... scroll down in this article for the phrases - they're worth it!

How to overcome barriers in learning te reo Māori

Pepeha for non-Māori

Educator and linguist Keri Opai discusses the purpose of a pepeha and suggests a template for non-Māori to use. It helps us avoid misappropriation while still making strong connections, respectfully.

Pepeha for non-Māori

Rongo app

Rongo will speak and listen to you, and help improve your reo pronunciation using a mix of old and new methods. It’s available now for Apple devices (coming soon for Android).

Get Rongo in the Apple Store

Want to know more? Te Hiku Media (the Far North iwi radio, media and technology hub), have a great article on the traditional Māori teaching method the app uses.

Traditional Māori teaching method embedded in the Rongo app (Te Hiku Media)

Te Hiku Media has a seven-year, $13 million research programme called Papa Reo. It aims to ‘establish a multilingual language platform to develop natural language processing tools and methods that will enable New Zealanders to engage with technology in the language they use or aspire to use every day’.

Te Kete Māori app

Try this app as another option for help with te reo Māori pronunciation. It also includes advice on greetings, pōwhiri, common words and phrases, and other elements of Māori culture. It's available for both Android and Apple devices.

Te Kete Māori in the Google Play Store

Te Kete Māori in the Apple Store

Communication channels

Which World Bank reports are widely read?

Grant Mackenzie, long-time TechCommNZ conference presenter, shares this article with us. Thanks, Grant!

It is amazing that there are still technical communicators who create and distribute their user help as online PDFs.

In 2014 the World Bank, which spends about one quarter of its budget for country services on reports, published a report on the downloading (readership) of its reports which are all online PDFs.

More than 31% of its reports had never been downloaded even once. A mere 13% had been downloaded (read) more than 250 times.

The irony is that, even though they have proof that online PDFs are a poor delivery mechanism, the report is available only as (drum roll) an online PDF.

Which World Bank reports are widely read?

User experience

Jackie Thomas’ favourite user experience (UX) books

Jackie presented to us about UX content design at the conference this year. If we didn’t know it before, we definitely know it now – writers are designers!

Here we've included a list of some of Jackie's favourite UX books. Thanks, Jackie!

  • Microcopy: The Complete Guide – Kinneret Yifrah
  • Strategic Writing for UX – Torrey Podmajersky
  • Writing is Designing – Michael J. Metts and Andy Welfle
  • Cultivating Content Design – Beth Dunn
  • Writing for Designers – Scott Kubie
  • Just Enough Research – Erika Hall
  • How to Make Sense of Any Mess – Abby Covert

Design tools

Design your own beautiful brand

Need help creating a logo and banded templates? Looka no further, because:

‘Looka combines your design preferences with AI to make beautiful logos you'll love. Once you have your logo, use the Brand Kit to access 300+ branded templates, create custom marketing assets, build a website, and launch your business!’


The PowerPoint of video making

With Lumen5, create an online video in the same way you make a presentation. It’s as easy as pointing and clicking, dragging and dropping.


Create a profile pic from any photo

Upload your photo and add the background you want with this free tool.