The Technical Communicator as Lobbyist

Subject: The Technical Communicator as Lobbyist
From: Steven Jong <JONG -at- CREDTECH -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 9 May 1995 09:54:25 -0400

Here's a letter I sent to my U.S. Senator. You might want to send yours
something similar...
Dear Senator ...,

I recently read about a proposed law to help protect small-aircraft
manufacturers from unreasonable lawsuits. I thought the proposed legislation
sounded like a good idea, and in considering the current mood in Washington to
overhaul product-liability legislation I saw an opportunity to address the
problem of frivolous lawsuits.

I propose legislation limiting the liability of a manufacturer whose
product was not used in substantial accordance with instruction. For example,
a toaster manufacturer that produced an instruction booklet warning against any
use other than toasting could not then be sued by someone who used it to stir
water. To give a less frivolous example, a ladder manufacturer who affixed a
warning sticker not to climb above a certain rung could not then be sued by
someone who climbed above it and then fell off. I feel this is a reasonable
law that would protect manufacturers without limiting the rights of consumers
to seek redress for injury due to defective products.

In suggesting this idea I confess to acting out of naked self-interest.
I am a senior member of the Society for Technical Communication, the world's
largest professional association for technical writers, editors, and
illustrators. My profession would benefit from emphasis of the importance of
product documentation, and if enacted the legislation would encourage
manufacturers to devote more resources to product documentation. However, the
resulting improvement in product documentation quality would be of benefit to


Steven Jong
-- Steve
Steven Jong, Documentation Specialist ("Typo? What tpyo?")
Lightbridge, Inc, 281 Winter St., Waltham, MA 02154 USA
<jong -at- lightbridge -dot- com>, 617.672.4902 [voice], 617.890.2681 [FAX]

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