The international language of many industries is English, and English is the language most used for writing technical documentation. However, it is often not the native language of the readers (or even of the authors) of such documentation. Many readers have limited knowledge of English, and are easily confused by complex sentence structures and by the number of meanings and synonyms which English words can have.
The key factor for the creation of a controlled and simplified form of English was essentially a request from the customers (i.e. the Airlines), of which 80% are not native English speakers, and their need of doing correct maintenance to guarantee the aircraft availability.
Complex technical instructions can be misunderstood and misunderstandings can lead to accidents. STE makes technical texts easy to understand by all readers and can be regarded as an important and valuable resource for technical writing to simplify the correct understanding of the maintenance instructions by the operators, remove linguistic barriers and reduce Human Factor risks.
The STE Specification provides a set of Writing Rules and a Dictionary of controlled vocabulary.
The Writing Rules cover aspects of grammar and style.
The Dictionary specifies the general words that can be used.
These words were chosen for their simplicity and ease of recognition. In general, there is only one word for one meaning, and one part of speech for one word.
In addition to its dictionary, STE permits the use of company-specific or project-specific technical words (referred to in STE as technical names and technical verbs). STE gives you the rules and the categories for these technical words. Basically, writers can use the approved words in the dictionary as a core vocabulary. But they can also use terms that are usual in their companies or industries and applicable to their projects and products.
The STE specification is maintained by the ASD STEMG consisting of representatives from ASD member countries and non-ASD member countries. The STEMG was originally formed in 1983 as a working group to develop AECMA Simplified English and subsequently, in 2004, when ASD was created, the group changed its name to the STEMG.
The STEMG reports to the ASD Product Support Specification Group (PSSG) which in turn reports to the ASD Services Commission (SVC).