One of the central tenets of technical communication research and pedagogy is user-analysis (Redish, 2010; Barnum & Redish, 2011). Technical documents conceived to be used by individuals from different backgrounds should be the product of cycles of negotiations between authors and audiences. Similarly, the idea of participatory design (Ehn, 1993; Courage & Baxter, 2005; Simonsen & Robertson, 2012) revolves around a rhetoric of collaboration and shared-authoring that involves users at all stages of product or content development. User-centered and user-participatory approaches emphasize the importance of user feedback to identify not only problems, but also possibilities that writers and designers might fail to consider. Sauer’s (1998) influential research on risk communication in the mining industry offers strong arguments in support of the idea that technical instructions and safety documentation should be developed with the help of target audiences. Knowledge on risk reduction often originates with experienced miners, hence the need to involve them in the development of safety regulations. Hart-Davidson (2013) cites Sauer’s work to point out that technical communicators should aim to become users’ advocates by using the information gathered by audience analysis to grant not only the usability but also the usefulness of documentation.

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