Plain Language Big Book: A Tool to for Reading Alcoholics Anonymous

66th General Service Conference in 2016

Additional Committee Consideration

Discussion resulted in an additional committee
consideration* that:

► “the need for ‘plain-language’ recovery literature be explored by the Trustees’ Literature Committee as a way to make the life-saving message of Alcoholics Anonymous more accessible.

(*An item that was discussed by a Conference committee, but with no action taken or recommendation made to the Conference as a whole. Serves as a suggestion to the corresponding trustees’ committee.)

2016-2020

Exploration

That exploration by the Trustees’ Literature Committee led to the creation of subcommittees for Researching Issues, Possible Tools and Access to the Book, known as RIPTAB-I and RIPTAB-II.

Subcommittee for Researching Issues, Possible Tools and Access to the Book (RIPTAB-I)

RIPTAB-I

Looked at established literacy levels to guide discussions of what language comprehension skills a reader – a prospective member – would need to comprehend the book, Alcoholics Anonymous.

They reviewed what other simplified “recovery”
materials were being used by members to meet
those needs.

2019

Subcommittee Conclusion

That literacy concerns indeed reflected potential accessibility barriers and it learned how this can be related to factors such as:

*Education
*Ethnicity
*English as a second language
*Reading disabilities
*Brain injuries
*Incarceration.

70th General Service Conference in 2020

RIPTAB-I Presentation

The Conference Literature Committee requested the trustees make available the RIPTAB-I presentation.

A video of the RIPTAB-I presentation was produced and
distributed to the fellowship with a request for feedback.

2020-2021

RIPTAB-II

A new subcommittee was tasked with continuing the work which involved gathering further information about issues related to fellowship requests regarding the language of the Big Book.

2021

RIPTAB-II Progress Report

A progress report was then forwarded to the 2021
Conference Literature Committee focused on
accessibility and relatability of the Big Book in terms of reaching a wider demographic of alcoholics.

The idea of a new book was not meant to change
or replace the Big Book, but rather
to overcome
barriers so the AA message might reach more
suffering alcoholics.

Heading towards the 71st General Service Conference 2021

Literature Item U

Consider if proposed agenda items for plain language, simplified language, accessible translations and large print versions of the book Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as workbooks to help study the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, can be addressed with a common solution.

Sample presentation used for an agenda topic group conscience.

71st General Service Conference in April
2021

Conference Advisory Action

At the 71st General Service Conference in April
2021, there was a Conference Advisory Action
which recommended:

► “that a draft version of the book, Alcoholics
Anonymous, be translated into plain and simple
language and be developed in a way that is
accessible and relatable to as wide of an audience as possible and that a progress report or draft be brought back to the 2022 Conference Literature Committee.

July 2021

New Subcommittee Formed: Tools to Access the Big Book (TABB)

At the meeting of the Trustees Literature Committee, a subcommittee was created to track the development of the Plain Language Big Book – noting the Conference Committee’s request that the book be “developed in a way that is accessible and relatable to as wide of an audience as possible.”

The subcommittee adopted the name “TABB” (Tools to Access the Big Book).

Potential Writers

The subcommittee “TABB” (Tools to
Access the Big Book) worked with the AAWS
Publishing Department to review potential writers for the project.

A formal “Request for Information” was sent out to vendors. It was focused on writers with experience in the fields of health, spirituality, self-help, or education.

Request for Information (RFI) Goals

“We seek a full plain language translation of an
abridged Alcoholics Anonymous. The final work
product must be accessible to readers at a
fifth-grade reading level.”

“The translation as a whole must capture the
welcoming and inclusive spirit of Alcoholics
Anonymous and inspire a sense of belonging and
hope in the alcoholic seeking help.”

The Response to the Request for Information (RFI)

There were 16 affirmative responses.

Of those, some were individuals, some were
partnerships, some were firms. Some were AA
members.

Field Narrowed to 6 Potential Vendors

The TABB subcommittee plus three members from AAWS Publishing (all AA members) – selected six vendors which were then hired to translate Chapter 5 and, if possible, a few select passages.

The samples were independently read and ranked by TABB and the Publishing team members and a writer was chosen.

Jan 2022

Selection of Writer Finalized

The selection of the writer was finalized. The subcommittee recommended that providing anonymity to the writer was in everyone’s best interest.

The writer asked not to be given specific coaching on certain passages until the review process. They didn’t want to be over-guided and as a result, get stifled.

The subcommittee established a regular ongoing review process of the writer’s work.

Heading towards the 72nd General Service Conference 2022

Deciding to Share Samples with Entire 72nd General Service Conference

In a break with previous practice, and to obtain
early feedback, the TABB subcommittee
recommended sharing unedited samples from
the writer’s first attempt to translate the text with
the Conference Literature Committee.

The Trustees Literature Committee recommended that the samples be shared with all Conference members.

After the 72nd General Service Conference 2022

Editing

As chapters came in, TABB and Publishing reviewed and provided suggestions for changes, with an expectation of additional rounds of refinements to ensure the tone and tenor was faithful to the guidance and the Big Book.

May 2022

Contract with Writer Finalized

While the selection of the writer was finalized in
January 2022, further negotiations lead to the contract being signed in May 2022.

The 73rd General Service Conference 2023

The Reading Room

To ensure confidentiality in the process it was
decided to create a controlled environment: a
designated room; with no cellphones or recording
devices allowed; and monitored by members of the Trustees Literature Committee.

TABB worked with the Trustees Conference Committee to schedule hours for each Conference member during Conference week.

In a departure from general practice and procedures pertaining to Conference approved literature, Reading Rooms were made available during Conference Week to provide Conference members the opportunity to review the Manuscript whether or not a Recommendation was submitted to the Conference for approval.

The 73rd General Service Conference 2023

Sharing Session

Conference members gave their impressions and
suggestions on the first 6 chapters.

Feedback from the Conference members was provided to the writer which was incorporated in the continued translation.

Select comments from the Conference members:

“I could read and understand this without a sponsor and heard the message of hope.”

“Was against it but I have evolved. Struck by how
beautiful and respectful it was. This is the most loving thing we have done for the still suffering alcoholics”

“Lots of fear in my area. Thank you for all the work to make this week possible. I think this tool will save lives. Please make it available in as many formats as possible, as soon as possible.”

The 73rd General Service Conference 2023

2023 Committee Consideration

The committee reviewed a progress report regarding the translation of the book Alcoholics Anonymous (Fourth Edition) into plain and simple language and agreed with the general direction of the project.

The committee requested that the project continue to move forward and that a draft or progress report be brought back to the 2024 Conference Committee on Literature.

2023

Continued Work to Complete Full Draft

The subcommittee has reviewed Chapter 11, Dr.
Bob’s Nightmare, and the Appendices.

2024

Information Sessions

Plain Language Big Book- the Journey So Far

This presentation developed by the Chair of the Plain Language Big Book Subcommittee has been used at informational sessions including the California Northern Coastal Area 06 on 1/17/24 and the Southeast Region on 2/25/24.

Questions and Answers from the Southeast Region Information Session on 2/25/24.

Heading towards the 74th General Service Conference 2024

Literature Item F

Review draft manuscript of the translation of the book Alcoholics Anonymous (Fourth Edition) into plain and simple language.

Sample presentation used for an agenda topic group conscience.

74th General Service Conference April 2024

Reading Room

In a departure from general practice and procedures pertaining to Conference approved literature, Reading Rooms will be made available during Conference Week to provide Conference members the opportunity to review the Manuscript whether or not a Recommendation is submitted to the Conference for approval.

CONFIDENTIALITY

Until a draft is “Conference-approved,” (i.e., approved by a 2/3rds vote of the Conference) and published, it is considered confidential.

Prior to then any number of changes might be suggested by the Conference to be made by the trustees’ Committee on Literature.

To ensure A.A.’s legal rights in the registration of the approved final draft of the Manuscript with the U.S. Copyright Office, maintain the integrity of A.A. literature and ultimately our most valued asset which is A.A. unity, it is critical that all Conference members adhere to “confidentiality” guidelines that expressly limit the review and discussion of the Manuscript to Conference members only and prevent the copying and/or distribution of the Manuscript (in whole or in part) at any time prior to publication which may lead to having multiple unapproved draft versions available to the public.

This confidential process ensures that A.A. literature will be protected from copyright challenges, and that the message that reaches the A.A. Fellowship reflects A.A. as a whole, an assurance made by the Conference-approval process.

74th General Service Conference April 2024

Literature Conference Committee

The 74th General Service Conference Committee on Literature (the “Committee”) will be reviewing the Manuscript primarily to determine whether or not it meets the intended goals of the development of a plain and simple language Big Book.

Also, as with all Conference-approved A.A. literature, the Committee will be looking at the Manuscript to assure “that everything in such literature is in accord with A.A. principles.

Conference-approved material always deals with the recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous or with information about the A.A.Fellowship.” (Concerns about routine grammar, punctuation, editing, etc., will be addressed by the Publishing Department.)

After the Conference Committee reviews the draft manuscript, several things may happen:

The Committee might approve the Manuscript and recommend the Manuscript be approved by the Conference as a whole.

The Committee might also send the Manuscript back to the trustees’ Committee on Literature with any significant concerns or changes about the proposed draft.

Clipart by Freepik

 
District 04 Santa Clara North