[OT] documents for the general public need to be generally readable

Wade Smart wade at wadesmart.com
Wed Oct 29 15:18:30 UTC 2008

Robert Hodgins wrote:
> On Wed, 2008-10-29 at 09:52 -0500, Wade Smart wrote:
>> 20081029 0948 GMT-6
>> This is a small rant of mine.
>> My son is in orchestra and his teacher sent out a file in a Microsoft 
>> docx format to ALL of the students in the music department. What upsets 
>> me about this is, first, to assume that all parents are using the latest 
>> Microsoft Office much less Microsoft Windows is ignorant. A great many 
>> of the music students use Mac and therefore may or may not use Office. 
>> And this says nothing of all of us who use something else. Second, if it 
>> is for the students of a public school system then it needs to be 
>> something that is generic enough to be opened by someone with any type 
>> of system.
> I've had this happen, as well. Just have a chat with the teacher. Many
> folks (and that includes teachers) are accustomed to hitting the ol'
> File..Save with no thought whatsoever as to the format that will be
> created.

20081029 1010 GMT-6

If it was just one teacher it would be one thing, though I have had this 
talk with all of his teachers to date, but its ALL of the teachers. I 
even received something from the district this morning and it too was docx.

Avi just posted about them assuming that every student has a computer. I 
know of many who do not. They have expensive cell phone plans for 
unlimited text messaging but no computer.

This is how I usually handle it:

Mr/Ms/Mrs Teacher

This document is in a proprietary format readable only by the latest 
Microsoft Office Word application and downloadable reader for older 
Microsoft Offices Suites. Those of us on Mac who do not use Office or 
those of us on Linux who use OpenOffice or other office suites, can not 
open this document.

Please go to File > Save As > in the box under where you put your title 
of the document, click on the drop down arrow and select Word 97/ 2000 / 
XP .doc.

Some do this others do not. I had an argument with a teacher who refused 
to send out a form in a format I could read. I didn't sign it as I 
couldn't open it. They now claim as I didn't sign it my son cant go on 
such and such field trip (which is a required part of his grade). Our 
lawyer is now involved as they failed him on that.

Ah... ranting. Sorry. Open formats for All!


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