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According to the online community of the Spinal Injuries Association, not in the least. I posted a message on the SIA board asking for feedback on a proposal to trial design training for people with spinal-cord injuries. An attachment included the following text:

According to the online community of the Spinal Injuries Association, not in the least. I posted a message on the SIA board asking for feedback on a proposal to trial design training for people with spinal-cord injuries. An attachment included the following text:

"Design can help alleviate the dramatic loss of confidence and diminished motivation that often results from a sudden physical impairment. As a structured way of approaching problems, design can help to re-build confidence. The RSA is developing a new model of design-training for spinal-cord-injured people focused on the goals of self-reliance and creative resourcefulness. The project includes inspirational introductory design presentations at the specialist spinal units in the UK and Republic of Ireland and a residential design workshop for spinal-cord-injured people and carers".

My post quickly provoked a number of quite scornful responses, from "I have no idea what you are proposing or going on about" to "can we have simple English please?" to a complaint that my attachment was "full of jargon". This baffled me for a bit. I went through all my phrases - "loss of confidence", "goal of self-reliance", "creative resourcefulness", "a structured way of approaching problems", "inspirational introductory design presentation" - and although I concede that the total effect might be a bit blousy, none of them constituted jargon in itself.

I began to wonder if the problem was the very word "design", so next I asked "What do you all think design is?" The first evasive reply was revealing: "I know what my dictionary says". Aha! And when another person said she found the language of my proposal frustrating "in particular the phrase 'design-training'" (my emphasis) I knew I had rumbled a big part of the problem. If there is a simpler, jargon-free way of saying design training, I can't find it. Training in design? Design lessons?

I wonder, is it that once you get a certain distance from the soi-disant creative industries, most people just don't have a clue what you mean by design? I'm sure, for example, it's usually a consumable noun rather than a do-able verb. Maybe there's a distant relative studying fashion design at art school, a meretricious new "designer" restaurant on the high street (ok so it's an adjective), some trendy kitchen tools in sherbet colours, but design training? What can she possibly mean?

I'm the first to concede that everyone benefits from editing. "Shoot from the hip in plain English", one of them advised me. I'm trying.

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