Professional Communication and Translation: It’s more than written language!

Room 42 is where practitioners and academics meet to share knowledge about breaking research. In this episode, Dr Rosário Durão explains why Professional Communication and Translation is more than written language. 

Airdate: February 16, 2022

Season 2 Episode 16 | 45 min

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Transcript (Expand to View)

[00:00:11.990] – Liz Fraley
Greetings everyone, and welcome to Room 42. I’m Liz Fraley from Single-Sourcing Solutions, I’m your moderator. This is Janice Summers from TC Camp, she’s our interviewer. And welcome to Rosário Durão, today’s guest in Room 42. Dr. Durão is the Associate Professor at New Mexico Tech, where she teaches courses in Visual Communication and Graphic Design, International Professional Communication, Design Thinking and Innovation Lab, Branding and Social Media, to name just a few of the many courses she teaches.

[00:00:40.510] – Liz Fraley
She received her PhD from the Open University in Portugal with a specialization in Translation Studies. Her dissertation was on the scientific and technical translation, a proposal for training for multicompetent translators specialized in producing scientific and technical documentation from English to Portuguese. She just finished her Graphic Design and digital certificate program from Parson School of Design.

[00:01:08.220] – Liz Fraley
She was the founding editor of Confluências, an e-journal dedicated technical and scientific translation between 2003 and 2006, and also the Digital Connections International Professional Communication Journal between 2013 and 2018. She coedited Connexions with Kyle Mattson, University of Central Arkansas, from 2014 to 2018, and from the mid 2014 to the end of 2018, she coordinated the multinational Visualizing Science and Technology Across Cultures research project at NMT.

[00:01:39.870] – Liz Fraley
Today she’s here to help us start answering the question, “What is visual communication and why is it particularly important to technical and professional communicators?” Welcome.

[00:01:51.210] – Rosário Durão
Thank you so much for having me here and I’m delighted to share whatever I can with you and to answer your questions.

[00:02:02.790] – Janice Summers
It is always such a delight to talk with you, and I love our conversations. I was hoping we could start out today’s conversation talking about, what is visual communication like? What does it encompass?

[00:02:18.330] – Rosário Durão
Well, about 80 percent of our sensory inputs are visual. So visual communication has to do with everything that we take in visually. Not everything is communication if there isn’t an interaction. We take in things that may not be communication because there isn’t that flow of information going back and forth. From the point of view of communication theories, we actually need to get feedback, and that feedback influences how communication is going to proceed.

[00:03:06.480] – Rosário Durão
It can be just… Say when you do this with your eyes and you’re like “Okay, so something went wrong there. Let me adjust what I’m going to say.” Visual communication has to do with what I’m seeing here, our faces, our expressions, the background. When we get to teaching it, visual communication is always preparing any type of documentation in multiple modes of media because we get the information in all of these forms. Everything visual comes through all of these forms. It’s body language. It is how the layout in a document is presented—

[00:04:11.750] – Janice Summers
Isn’t it like, even though it’s not the word, it’s also like the font family that’s chosen and the colors that are chosen?

[00:04:17.610] – Rosário Durão
Yes, it’s everything because writing is the visual presentation of words, of sounds and meaning, of course. We tend to forget that. Just yesterday in one of my classes, I was saying that writing is just the visual design of the sounds that we make and the content that we want to convey. And we tend to forget that. “Oh, no, it’s just a block of text. It’s two paragraphs.” No. How it’s presented, whether we have it nicely divided with headings and subheadings and titles and the color and everything is so important.

[00:05:09.120] – Janice Summers
That’s so funny. It’s so funny that you mentioned that, because I have interns working on a project. And I said to Liz, “I’m really having a hard time with this.” And really it’s because everything wasn’t formatted, it was all mushed together. So when you mush it all together, you’re not taking into consideration, like you said, the importance of that visual aspect. Even though it’s words, it’s visual aspect. They’re symbols that are put together and the way you present them matters. I’m sorry. You made me remember that.

[00:05:45.690] – Rosário Durão
We have a lot of competition. I mean, writing now has a lot of competition if we want to put it in these terms. And the problem is that when we look at something, we take it all in at the same time. But writing requires attention, it requires time, it requires us to go follow word for word. And so if people will take in the visual component and then stem from that, whether they want to continue reading, whether they like it… We take one fifth of a millisecond to judge whether we like something or not.

[00:06:26.950] – Janice Summers

[00:06:27.590] – Rosário Durão
And we take about the same amount of time to associate what we like with good quality and what we don’t like with poor quality. And these things are terrible because sometimes we have amazing content that is presented as a block of text or something like that. And I, for one, unless I absolutely have to read it, I move on.

[00:06:52.930] – Janice Summers
And that’s our— it’s natural selection because we’re inundated with information. So we have to select pretty quick. That’s human nature.

[00:07:06.170] – Rosário Durão
Yeah. One of the most important things for me is that we tend to forget that whatever we produce is always for humans, it’s always for other people. And it’s difficult to get a client mindset. It’s difficult also to place ourselves in the position of everyone who will be accessing whatever we produce or even whatever we say. And of course, it’s impossible.

[00:07:40.980] – Rosário Durão
But if we start with ourselves, “Okay, how would I react to this? Would I feel uncomfortable just looking at this? Would a visual here help? Or maybe it won’t help for me, but for someone else from a more highly visual culture would probably appreciate this.” For example, 3D graphs. We know they’re terrible. We know they are difficult to understand, but the software continues to produce them. They should have stopped doing that ages ago, but they don’t.

[00:08:21.060] – Rosário Durão
But then it’s just, hey, how is it? Is it for me or you ask a colleague, “Hey, what do you make of this?” And don’t tell them anything. User experience. They probably won’t make any sense of it. So it’s these tiny little simple things that we can do to improve how we communicate visually, which includes writing. And this is what I’m saying. People tend to think that everything starts and ends with writing. No, everything starts and ends with the visual. Writing is just part of that.

[00:08:57.950] – Liz Fraley
Well, I never quite put it together that way. I never thought about the 3D graphs in that way, because I talk a lot to people when we’re talking about structured authoring, that it’s hard. That we as humans, we don’t really think in three dimensions. We think in two and layer on the third. Stephen Hawking said he could think in four dimensions, and I am nowhere close to being him. So I can’t expect anybody’s really thinking in three. So I totally see now how the 3D graphics, the graphic visualization of a 3D data plot would be really difficult.

[00:09:36.150] – Rosário Durão
I’ve been at conferences where people present really important and significant information in 3D, and if they weren’t there, I wouldn’t make sense of it. So the thing is, graphs need to stand alone. Anything that is visual needs to stand alone or with just a little—you have to put the label and the title—that should suffice.

[00:10:04.710] – Janice Summers
Right. In data visualization, having text with the visual, with the image of the graphic helps give context to the information that’s displayed. They work in harmony. But both of them, all of them together is visual communication.

[00:10:27.750] – Rosário Durão

[00:10:29.210] – Janice Summers
Yeah. Because the context is important. If you just have a graph with no textual context to help support it, then you run into trouble.

[00:10:45.310] – Liz Fraley
If we’re already in trouble, it must make it even harder to translate it across cultures, contexts, people.

[00:10:55.090] – Janice Summers
That’s what I was just going to ask, too. Yeah. What about context across cultures?

[00:11:02.810] – Rosário Durão
Context is important, but that’s where the simplification of the information becomes even more relevant. Where the context, where the level of visual literacy and of course, writing as well, becomes even more important. Again, I’m teaching International Professional Communication this semester, and we were looking at the situation of how people use their phones in Africa.

[00:11:46.830] – Rosário Durão
If we lose our phone, it’s a big deal, but it’s not life threatening. In Africa, people use the phones with a tiny little screen, and that’s where they get the information of how the bananas are selling that day so they can decide on whether to go and sell them, on how to speak with relatives that are far away. And they would rather not eat and pay for the fee for their phone, than lose access to their phone, because that is the source of many people’s livelihood.

[00:12:39.310] – Rosário Durão
And when we design, we tend to think of our close environment, our closest here or ultimately nationwide. But then many of the things that we put out there, especially online, go to everywhere in the world, and so we start thinking, “Have I designed this to be as legible on a tiny screen for someone who does not understand English as well as I do and would rather read information in their own language?”

[00:13:22.430] – Rosário Durão
“Have I allowed enough room for translation because other languages take up 30, sometimes 50 percent more space? And have I made the visuals appealing and clear enough for someone who is not familiar with this?” Because through familiarity, you do become more at ease in understanding the data or the information. But still not everyone will have the same ease to understand things.

[00:14:05.930] – Rosário Durão
With international or global—nothing is really global. It’s just potentially global—how much information is really global? Some brands, maybe. We see Coke bottles everywhere in the world so probably that would be a global brand, but most others are not. You need to break it down into the different parts of the world, the continents, the countries and so on, and the social status. Everything that we do when we have a project. The demographics, the psychographics, the legal aspects.

[00:14:54.940] – Rosário Durão
Yes, the US is so legalistic and it just doesn’t matter in other countries. This is a personal example. When I studied complaint forms, I compared Portugal to the US. I mean, here, of course, you have a legal component, which is important. In Portugal, yeah, well, it’s not a big deal.

[00:15:25.510] – Janice Summers
Well, yeah, some cultures not as litigious as stateside. But it’s really interesting because you’re talking about the 3D and then you’re talking about images again. And then I was thinking about that little tiny window that somebody in Africa would have on their phone. That again, is another reason why the two-dimensional is probably easier on a little phone.

[00:15:50.490] – Janice Summers
Because I’m thinking about like computer-aided design drawings, equipment, and I know that simple illustrations are better for troubleshooting and repair than complex illustrations. Although complex, three-dimensional, it’s great if you can handle the virtual reality and you have the screen. But what if you’re out in the middle of a field somewhere trying to work on something? That two-dimensional is much easier to understand, much easier to see.

[00:16:21.010] – Rosário Durão
Yeah. It’s not that we don’t present the three-dimensional, but in that case, it’s really important to break it down. It’s a small multiples, tough two small multiples approach. Break it down into its component parts, which are two-dimensional and easier. Another thing is, visual is also audio-visual. So in many ways a video will be more effective, a video showing things—

[00:16:55.860] – Rosário Durão
It’s interesting. Whenever we create instructions, we really need to think about the process and what goes into doing something. If you take the time— okay so, these instructions are amazing on paper. Now let me try and do it and convert this into a tutorial, an audio-visual or even just visual tutorial but where you need to go through the actions. In that case, you’ll need to add arrows and things like that. Wow, it gets tough.

[00:17:38.150] – Janice Summers
Yeah. It’s an interesting challenge. I think video is really starting to grow in technical communication. And I like the fact we’re talking about visual aspect, I think it’s important because all of this supports the words. Having all the visual components with it support the words. But breaking down even something that seems like a simple, almost a no brainer, it’s a challenging thing to do but an important thing.

[00:18:17.210] – Rosário Durão
I would rather say words support the visual. Academia is all about words, but I would say words support the visual. It’s amazing, whenever I read an article about anything that’s visual and many…I wouldn’t say most, but many of them are talking about visual communication somehow, and there is not one visual. How do you do that? Is it me? Or is it them, or how can you do that? How can you talk about something that is visual and not include it?

[00:19:09.270] – Janice Summers
That’s funny.

[00:19:10.490] – Rosário Durão
I think that’s a lovely challenge that we in professional communication, technical communication have ahead of us. It’s to make peace with the fact that we are dealing with visual communication every day. We need to actually grab it and learn how to do it and to also alert our students to it.

[00:19:42.870] – Janice Summers
And it’s interesting, too, because I’m thinking about also the ability to describe the visual. Because description of a visual, when you’re talking about doing things for people who have visual handicaps, we’re describing the visual for them. We can’t overlook that. And that description of the visual is the visual representation to someone who is sight-challenged, who has seeing challenges.

[00:20:16.230] – Rosário Durão

[00:20:16.230] – Janice Summers

[00:20:17.970] – Liz Fraley
Right. If you want to create an equivalent experience, not just, “Hey, it’s purple.” What does that mean?

[00:20:26.150] – Janice Summers
Right. Describing purple or describing the visual is also the visual representation.

[00:20:33.890] – Rosário Durão
That also means that we know very little—and I’m speaking for myself—about how to communicate from an accessibility point of view. Another one of those exercises that we need to do, and I need to do it as well, which is, what is it like to not see or to see very poorly? Actually, I saw a video ages ago about someone who had to go to an ATM and they put a blind on their face. Blindfold. And they went there and they were amazed at how difficult it was for them to do something that they were used to doing.

[00:21:25.050] – Rosário Durão
But the point you bring up is very interesting. How do you describe an image for whoever wants it or needs it? We may just be tired, for example, and want to listen to something instead of looking at it. I don’t know. There are so many reasons why we don’t always choose to read or to look at something. So an important point is the 5W1H questions [Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How], we always need to answer those. Those are critical to know exactly what we’re talking about.

[00:22:02.250] – Rosário Durão
But then it is, how do you describe what you are seeing? Do you follow the F pattern [“fast” pattern, most common user eye-scanning pattern]? If it’s online, if it’s for Western cultures, we always need to start on the top left. If it’s for cultures that write from right to left, it’s the other way around. For example, instructions, step-by-step instructions, if you place them on a horizontal scale; step one, step two, step three, you will need to invert it for many other cultures. Wow. This is fascinating. Thank you.

[00:22:55.910] – Janice Summers
But it’s true and it’s interesting because as you’re talking, I’m thinking about the visually impaired, and I’m thinking, wow, the words then become the visual. And then yes, the right to left, left to right. Yeah.

[00:23:14.090] – Liz Fraley
Right. So let me ask a question that I go back and forth on this. We talked a little bit about layout. How the layout of the documentation, like the layout of the physical, whatever it is you’re producing, either on the web or in print. At some point, things were all one big block. And then we kind of went to the other extreme and we have outlined structures wher every a paragraph and every everything is indented and numbered.

[00:23:47.270] – Liz Fraley
And then when the web came, we went back the other way and we have blocks again with headings, and we got rid of the numbering. I’ve looked for reasons why and I haven’t seen any research to the specifics of it. But I’m very excited that you finished your design certificate because maybe you have some sense of what’s good and bad or more productive or less accessible and whether there are cultural issues behind some of those choices. It’s a weird question. I know.

[00:24:26.850] – Rosário Durão
Well, something that I learned and it doesn’t have to do with the design certificate is that, if it’s a step-by-step process, you put numbers. If it’s not, you don’t put numbers. And paragraph spacing, item spacing, let’s say indentation to make things and topics stand out: use these strategies, but if it’s not for a step-by-step process, basically for instructions, don’t do that. Of course, you can use numbers decoratively and put a huge number. Number two. Huge and then the writing to the right of it.

[00:25:20.140] – Rosário Durão
And that creates that appealing factor that you really want. Oh, wow. Even if it’s not relevant. Dilemma. Dilemma. That’s the biggest part. But yes, the visual component will help, that is critical. Now, cross-culturally, I’ve seen everything that I have learned about and read, and that I think it’s still the best approach. People understand numbers because they’re even in other alphabets. And so the number approach for steps is relevant.

[00:26:18.390] – Liz Fraley
I can see how if you numbered both steps and everything else, that that would minimizes the importance of the numbers entirely, and you can’t tell what’s a step and what’s not.

[00:26:32.310] – Rosário Durão

[00:26:33.390] – Liz Fraley
That’s actually an excellent point. Cool.

[00:26:38.400] – Janice Summers
I think the whole evolution of the numbering versus not numbering is a whole another area to explore. That kind of had a life of its own. So now context, we’re talking about visual communication. How different are they from one culture to the next? How do we take those into consideration? And what are some of the biggest things that we need to look out for when we’re crossing cultural divides to make sure that context is relevant as it is for one group, as it is for another group, as it is for another group?

[00:27:22.480] – Janice Summers
Let’s say we’re writing for five countries. Let’s just say we’re international, not global. We’ve got five countries to write for. How do we consider visual communication and how do we consider context?

[00:27:42.350] – Rosário Durão
Well, this is based on… When I first started teaching, it was translation. And I soon realized also because some of my students drew my attention to it, that just translating words was not working. That’s good for literature. Yeah, but you have literature. Yeah. That’s how you go. But the working world is very different. And I had worked before in a company, in a company that was Metallo Mechanical Company, that made cranes and things like that. And I had to translate things, but I also kept it very much at the literal level.

[00:28:40.330] – Rosário Durão
But then I realized that you need to first collect a body of information of how the other culture actually produces the same type of information. So if it’s specifications for a crane, look at how cranes—those specifications are created natively in China, let’s say. Look at that and instead of pairing words, for example, pair the expressions, the whole sentences, the structure, what comes first? You know that we are topic-based here.

[00:29:36.800] – Rosário Durão
We start with the introductory sentence, paragraphs, but in Portuguese, for example, that does not happen. You go in circles like this and this and this and sometimes the topic is at the end of the paragraph. And so you need to do a lot of research into how, natively, the same information is produced.

[00:30:03.950] – Rosário Durão
And then you start thinking about how it is displayed. Is it more visually rich in terms of design? What about the color choices? Everything that we know about intercultural and international communication applies. But it starts with us taking a step back from us and doing in depth research into how things are done there.

[00:30:37.020] – Rosário Durão
Of course, ideally, we would live there, have lived there and understand them. And this is, for example, one of the reasons why, in translation, people are always saying you cannot translate unless it is to your own native language and you always need to have lived for many years in another country to know how best to adapt and what you need to adapt.

[00:31:13.500] – Janice Summers
Yeah. The important thing is, because when you’re in the…We have adaptive tendencies. Every culture does. So understanding how they cope and deal with something and how they modify to make something work is important when you’re translating. Yeah, go ahead.

[00:31:40.650] – Rosário Durão
The thing is, nowadays there’s a lot of homogeneity—

[00:31:48.430] – Janice Summers
Homogeny. One of those. We understand the meaning, whichever word. Yeah, we get it.

[00:31:53.830] – Rosário Durão
Because of all the travel. So that makes things much easier. But if you think that, as in my research, if you think that a Nigerian student still places the lion at the top of—not still, places. Just plain places the lion at the top of the food chain, it’s a whole different mentality. It’s a whole different worldview. What does that imply?

[00:32:29.210] – Rosário Durão
It’s a one case-by-case approach. It’s interesting, when you really want to do something well, of course, we need to balance a more general thing with the cultural elements. And that’s where the guilt, globalization, internationalization, localization and translation process comes in. So you have the internationalization process, which is where you abstract what is common, and then the localization, where you actually include everything that is culturally specific.

[00:33:10.010] – Rosário Durão
This is a good balance. It’s a well-balanced process. And then, of course, the translation, which is still today, is very much based on just language. And where the translation agencies never or very rarely send the translators the visual elements, when a document contains them. They take them out and once again, I’m here, hey, these things coexist, they complement each other. How is that—

[00:33:50.000] – Rosário Durão
I mean, translators are brilliant. Not all, as in everything. It has to do with a lot of experience, lots of practice. Yeah, that’s it. And the thing is that even with translation now, some people prefer the cocreation aspect where—here’s the new product and everyone is there creating from scratch. And that would be ideal, but not every business thinks about that way still. So the translation is at the end of the process and it will just do the best job, but the circumstances are not good.

[00:34:47.530] – Janice Summers
With the growth of design thinking, I think a lot of people are starting to approach things from a design thinking perspective. Do you think that will help bridge that gap instead of thinking of translations at the last part? Do you think that that would help in the beginning phases if we apply design thinking because we’re thinking in terms of, who from other cultures do we need to bring in because where is this going to be used?

[00:35:12.730] – Janice Summers
Is this piece of equipment going to be used in the Sahara Desert? Is it going to be used in the mountains where there’s a lot of ice and snow? So maybe we need to bring people from these diverse cultures in from the beginning.

[00:35:27.970] – Rosário Durão
It would certainly help a lot. It would be amazing if it did. But it’s interesting. Everything that I’ve read, people talk about bringing different specializations to the table, let’s say, to the exercise. But I have never read about bringing the translators or people from the guilt area into it. So it is something that it’s important to push forward and to actually get teams to realize if you’re not just selling for your little place, bring in people from these fields.

[00:36:07.870] – Janice Summers
Yeah. That would make sense to me.

[00:36:13.750] – Rosário Durão

[00:36:14.150] – Janice Summers
If you’re wanting to be international, because I think a lot of companies kind of… I mean, even if they’re established companies, they have an understanding of their international footprint, especially if they’re established companies.

[00:36:31.090] – Rosário Durão
They should.

[00:36:32.890] – Janice Summers
They should.

[00:36:32.890] – Rosário Durão
The thing with translation and the converting, let’s say, the adaptation of information or content for multiple audiences in multiple parts of the world. It’s a big deal because many people, first, never hire a translator or they never contact an agency because it’s expensive. So anyone in the office will say, “Oh, you just do that.” Okay. And I’m not talking about the gender issue here, although many people relate to that.

[00:37:13.390] – Rosário Durão
So the translations are… I think people do their best. Everyone does the best they can but they’re not aware of the subtleties and all of this. So they basically translate, I wouldn’t say verbatim, but a very basic translation, which isn’t revised by a native speaker, so sometimes we get the information that we need to interpret because it’s not clear. And of course, that happens constantly. The other thing is they sometimes, businesses, send these to translation or LSPs [Language Server Protocols]. There are many words for this.

[00:37:59.170] – Janice Summers
A translation that specializes in it. Yeah.

[00:38:03.870] – Rosário Durão
But they are afraid to convey a lot of the information because copyright and all of that is a big issue for them. So they don’t convey everything that is necessary for the translators or the localization, everyone else to do a good job. We’re never going to get an ideal situation. And also, many of these businesses are smaller businesses, medium-sized companies, and they don’t even know what design thinking is, much less spend time doing it. They don’t even do user testing or usability experience. They’re not aware of that.

[00:38:54.450] – Rosário Durão
I don’t know what to propose, actually. It’s complex. I was talking about this when I was doing my PhD. I was talking about this before I completed my PhD when I did translation. So this has been going on for three years, the same type of conversation and the fact that this situation will always be the same. There will always be different levels of awareness of what it takes to convey information nationally, internationally, multinationally, globally, whatever.

[00:39:33.850] – Janice Summers
I think that’s part of the important thing is having the conversations about this and striving for the best. It’s like the good, better, best scenario. If you’ve got the luxury to be the best, then shoot for that. If you don’t have that luxury, consider how you can do better or how you can at least do good.

[00:39:56.970] – Rosário Durão

[00:39:57.330] – Janice Summers
And I think one of the things that you brought up is key in the terms of translation, because oftentimes we hear in translation, “Just translate the words because I’m on a tight budget.” Just translate the words. But maybe we could consider sharing the graphics with the translation house just to get their perception. To say, “Okay, yes, you’re going to translate the words, but can I get your perception of these graphics?” So maybe that’s a good way to start getting better. Even if you can’t be the best, you can do good, better, best.

[00:40:35.610] – Rosário Durão

[00:40:36.350] – Janice Summers
And strive for it. Because a lot of times when I talk to people in translation, they’re just considering words. Translate the words.

[00:40:45.050] – Rosário Durão
Yeah. Schools continue to do that. Localization—not many schools consider localization. And I think there is a very fundamental reason for this. And if we change this, things would be much better. Our cultures are text-based. From my point of view, and I haven’t read anything to the contrary, it has to do with the written basis of the fundamental religious documentation. I don’t want to call it the Bible, because then there’s a Quran, there are all of these—

[00:41:39.340] – Janice Summers
They’re instruction books.

[00:41:43.610] – Rosário Durão
And the whole society revolves around the fact that everything that comes in writing is important and precious. Okay. Very few cultures have a more visual approach. But in schools, then what we see is up to, and I’m not very familiar with that, I never had kids, so I’m not quite sure up to when you do visual designs and things like that. But I guess once you’re about ten or something, unless you wanted to go into design, everything is much more text-heavy, writing-heavy, reading-heavy.

[00:42:38.910] – Rosário Durão
And for me, this is the basis of not having as good or as effective and a pleasing communication as possible. We need to pay as much attention to instruct, educate all through our lives in all the literacies. And I’m thinking about Rebecca Burnett’s W.O.V.E.N. [acronym]; Written, Oral, Visual, Electronic and Nonverbal. Oral, it’s interesting she placed that in second place because otherwise she wouldn’t get the acronym. So I would say, O.V.A.N. No, no, visual. V.O.W.E.N.

[00:43:31.920] – Janice Summers
There you go, V.O.W.E.N. Yeah, visual. Yeah, I agree.

[00:43:40.250] – Rosário Durão
People should use all of these as easily as we do writing. When we get to that stage, many of the issues that we’re having now won’t exist, simply. I mean, this is utopia, right?

[00:44:00.170] – Janice Summers
Well, we can strive for the best. And that’s putting the visual communication front and center and not losing, pardon the pun, not losing sight of it. I am sorry, but—

[00:44:17.420] – Liz Fraley
What a way to end.

[00:44:18.230] – Janice Summers
I know. This has been great, and I hope we’ve gotten to a lot of the questions. We’ve woven them into the conversation. But if we have missed something, reach out. Your contact information is included. They can reach out to you. It has been such a delight. It is always a pleasure to talk to you. And so many things to think about for everyone to think about how they want to change and modify to become better and put visual communication at the forefront. Yeah.

[00:44:52.170] – Liz Fraley
You inspired us all.

[00:44:54.050] – Janice Summers
Yes. Huge inspiration.

[00:44:56.490] – Rosário Durão
Thank you. That’s so amazing. You are awesome. And everyone who joined and who will watch this later and ask questions. Thank you so much for listening to my thoughts, my random thoughts on things, and for being interested in how we can make communication better by highlighting the visual component.

[00:45:20.190] – Janice Summers

[00:45:20.880] – Liz Fraley
Absolutely. Thank you so much.

[00:45:23.710] – Janice Summers
All right. Thanks everybody. Until next time. Bye.

In this episode

Dr. Rosário Durão is an Associate Professor at New Mexico Tech (NMT) where she teaches courses in Visual Communication and Graphic Design, International Professional Communication, Design Thinking for Innovation Lab, Branding and Social Media, to name a few. She received her PhD from the Open University, Portugal, with a specialization inTranslation Studies. Her dissertation was on “Scientific and technical translation: Proposal for training multicompetent translators specialized in producing scientific and technical documentation from English to Portuguese.” Rosário is currently completing the Graphic and Digital Design Certificate program from Parsons School of Design. She was the founding editor of Confluências, an e-journal dedicated to technical and scientific translation between 2003 and 2006 (available on SlideShare), and the, also digital, connexions •  international professional communication journal between 2013 and 2018 (available here). She coedited connexions with Kyle Mattson from the University of Central Arkansas from 2014 to 2018. From mid 2014 to the end of 2018, she also coordinated the multinational VISTAC – Visualizing Science and Technology Across Cultures research project at NMT.

The world is awash with visual artifacts and visual modes of communication, yet most research and instruction in professional communication and translation continues to privilege the written mode. Rosário believes this is anachronic. Building on the idea that communication is always between people, no matter how many tools and technologies mediate it, and that, if it is to work, communication must truly meet the needs, expectations, and contexts of the people receiving it, she will bring to the conversation the experiences and questions that led her to this stance: a multinational background, a translator training methodology, questions from her PhD, readings on Science and Technology Studies, and studies with STEM students and practicing engineers.

She will also share some ways for researchers and instructors to be more in sync with the world around us, in particular (a) observing professionals in their workplaces (what they do throughout their days, the tools they use and how they use them, the role of sketching, designing, body language, as well as their role and interactions with video, blog posts, slideshows, graphs, document layout, communication design, and many other visual components), (b) understanding how individual and group cultures and nationalities shape the way people think and deploy verbal-visual language, especially the visual component, and (c) making sure that every one of us has as high a level of visual literacy as written, oral, electronic, and nonverbal—both theoretical and, most importantly, practical —for only then can we truly understand and convey the evolving role of visuals in communicating science, humanities, technology, engineering, arts, and business between people within specific languages, cultures and nationalities, and across different languages, cultures and nationalities.



Faculty page:

Durão, Rosário, Kyle Mattson, Marta Pacheco Pinto, Ricardo López-Léon, Joana Moura, Anastasia Parianou. “Mingled threads: A tapestry of tales from a complex multinational project.” In Transnational Research in Technical Communication: Stories, Realities, and Reflections, edited by Bernadette Longo and Nancy Small (SUNY) (forthcoming July 2022).

Pinto, Marta Pacheco, Joana Moura, and Rosário Durão. “Understanding the visual communication of science and technology in translation: Initial results of an esurvey.Journal of Translator Education and Translation Studies, 1(2), 2016: 58–77.

Durão, Rosário, Yvonne Eriksson, Kyle Mattson, Tatiana Batova, Yvan Yenda Illunga, and Anastasia Parianou. “Conveying meaning through shapes and lines: What practicing engineers can teach Higher Education (HE) about information literacy in g/local worksites.” Georgia International Conference on Information Literacy, Sep. 25–26, 2015, Savannah, GA (Sep. 25–26, 2015). [Presenters: Rosário Durão and Kyle Mattson]. 

Durão, Rosário, Marta Pacheco Pinto, Kristina Henneke, and Karen M. Balch. “Visualizing science and technology across cultures: Results of a pilot study.” Information Design Journal, 21(2), 2014: 99–114. 

The design of online complaint forms: a comparison of American and Portuguese examples.” Information Design Journal, 19(2), 2011: 120–139.

“Scientific and technical translation: Proposal for training multicompetent translators specialized in producing scientific and technical documentation from English to Portuguese”  (PhD thesis)

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