|Go stand in the corner, dummy|
To this, I say Hogwash.
The problem we have isn't that reading comprehension has dropped. No, the problem we have is that we - as specialized communicators - often overlook the fact that our audience knows a lot, but their expertise is elsewhere.
|Rock on, my man!|
|What's wrong under the hood?|
|That's one mighty big heart you have there, doc!|
Now, from this illustration, would you call any of these people ignorant? On a third-grade level of intelligence? Not a chance. Each of these people has a tremendous amount of skill and knowledge developed over years of study and practice, but not in the field that you are an expert. While the public may do things that drive you mad with exasperation, just remember that they don't have the background in the topic you have. Add to that they also have to juggle getting the kids to practice, do grocery shopping, balance their checkbooks, plan when they will finally get around to painting the house - well, you get the idea.
So, how do we reach them? Easy. Drop the jargon. Lose the acronyms. Remember you aren't speaking to peers in your discipline, but people who can learn if the information is presented in the right way. In other words, we need to stop looking down on the public we serve and understand a great truth that Albert Einstein grasped so well.
There. Now I will get off my soapbox.