The Text Auditors

Allow us to introduce ourselves

The experts in Leichte Sprache (simplified German) at Proqualis are people with learning difficulties.
They have audited all the texts for the exhibitions of Hartheim Castle – Place for Learning and Remembrance – even during the Corona pandemic.

Proqualis is part of KI-I, the “Information Technology Competence Network for the Promotion of the Integration of People with Disabilities”,
which has been working since 2003 to improve the living conditions of people with disabilities and older people.

The employees of Gut Verstanden GmbH first translated the original texts into easy-to-understand language. The experts from Proqualis carried out numerous “text audits”, in which they combed through these texts. To find out what exactly this involves and how it was for them as people with disabilities to deal with this difficult subject, read our interview with Karl Mühlbachler:

Interview with Karl Mühlbachler,
quality evaluator and text auditor at Proqualis

Hello Karl, thank you for making the time for this interview.
Could you please briefly explain to readers who you are?
We’d also like to know where you work and what exactly you do there.

My name is Karl Mühlbachler
and I work as a quality evaluator at Proqualis.
The training for this lasted three years.
We conduct surveys in Upper Austria.
We visit services for people with disabilities
and ask people there about work and housing.
We also do text audits for texts in easy-to-understand language.

Can you please explain to us how exactly you do this?

Yes. There are always at least four of us: three auditors and one moderator.
Since March 2020, we’ve also done a lot of online auditing via Skype and Zoom.

Many people can’t read texts in difficult language and then they can’t understand the information.
My colleagues and I examine texts in easy-to-understand language so allpeople can understand them.
So all people get the information, including people with learning difficulties.
If we don’t understand something, it has to be rewritten, because that means it’s not easy-to-understand language.

And that’s exactly what you did with the exhibition texts for Hartheim Castle:
Working together, you checked the translations of the texts to see if you could really understand them.
So you’re the experts in easy-to-understand language.

Yes. Because we are ourselves people with learning difficulties.

What did you
know beforehand about Hartheim Castle – Place for Learning and Remembrance?
Had you ever been there?

I’ve heard a lot about it because I’ve been interested in the subject for a long time.
I’ve never been there before, but I’d like to see the exhibition.
We’ve now audited many texts from Hartheim Castle and I’ve very interested in
the subjects of euthanasia and the extermination of people with disabilities.

Can you please tell us which texts you audited for Hartheim Castle?

We audited the texts from the Memorial site.
We also checked the texts of the new exhibition.
They’re about the past, but also about the present and the future.
Many atrocities happened in Hartheim Castle.
Let us hope this never happens again.

How did you feel when you were auditing the texts?

I had mixed feelings.
I have also dealt with the issue before.
It is a sensitive issue.
It’s sad, what happened.
But it also brought progress:
today, people think about it.
They learn from the past.
So that what happened in the Nazi era in Hartheim Castle doesn’t happen again.

What did you find easy when auditing the texts?

Checking the texts themselves for easy-to-understand language,
difficult words... that was all just like it usually is.

Well, you are professionals after all. But did you also find anything difficult?

The texts were different from other texts that we’ve audited before.
The subject touched our hearts.
But I believe it’s very important to get to grips with the atrocities committed by the Nazis.
What I missed in the text audits on Skype was the follow-up discussions with colleagues.
Normally you can have an even better conversation about what you’ve just translated.

It’s also harder to concentrate.
With Skype or Zoom, you have to concentrate on the split screen, then you’re also supposed to pay attention to the text, listen and read and the technology has to work.

Thank you very much, Karl.
Now we come to my last question for you: What else would you like to say to the people who visit the exhibition?

I’d like to tell them that texts in easy-to-understand language are important for all people.
That’s why we audited the texts.
The exhibition is also very important.
People should understand what happened there.
Hartheim Castle should warn people and give them a wake-up call.
People shouldn’t say: “That didn’t happen.”
Or: “That was so long ago; it can’t happen today.”
You have to get to grips with the past.

People should look at the exhibition and reflect on it!
You should also look at the texts in easy-to-understand language; that’s important too.

Karl, thank you so much for your time.
Do you have one last sentence for us?

Let us hope that something like this never happens again.

About Karl Mühlbachler:

Karl Mühlbachler works as a quality evaluator at Proqualis in the Information Technology Competence Network for the Promotion of the Integration of People with Disabilities (KI-I). There, he and his colleagues are responsible for auditing texts in Leichte Sprache according to the capitostandard. All texts in the exhibitions in Hartheim Castle are available not only in the original version but also in the easy-reading language levels LL A2 and LL B1. All texts have been checked for comprehensibility by people with learning difficulties.
At Proqualis, people with disabilities work as experts. Karl is 60 years old and his hobbies are reading, listening to music, cinema, concerts and writing stories.
The stories are, of course, in easy-to-understand language.

The interview was conducted via Zoom on 30 November 2020 by an employee of Gut Verstanden GmbH. The rights for this interview are held by Gut Verstanden GmbH. It was translated to English by Paul Richards.