Making Newsletters, Publicity And Websites Accesible to All
Whether you are producing an information leaflet on your services, promoting an event, or developing your website, you need to think about who you are reaching. Here are some things to think about in general:
Text Size and bold – It is good practice to use a clear, simple font style with a minimum font size of 12pt or 14pt, for any printed materials or 18px for digital material. By ensuring that you use a clear font with the minimum size, partially sighted people will have a better chance of reading and accessing your materials. Use text size and the use of bold to highlight key information only, such as dates, times and contact details, so that people can easily pick out the key points.
Language and braille options – If you want to make sure you reach diverse communities, it is worth considering the need to interpret your services. Translation and braille services can be costly, so it is worth doing your research and thinking about your target audience. Does your local community have a significant Jewish or Bangladeshi community for instance?
If you are advertising services in different languages, people from ethnic communities may read them and then expect someone to speak their language when they contact you. You don’t want to spend a lot of money unless there is a need and you can follow through. There are also a range of online tools, such as Google translations, that you can use on your websites, which although is not ideal, are free to install if you haven’t got the budget to spend on translating a large bulk of text.
Colours – Many websites now have the option to view the pages in different colours, such as black and white, in order to create a stronger contrast between the text and the background. When producing leaflets or fliers, try and use dark colours on light (or vice-versa) when using text, and keep to a minimum number of colours in order to help those with visual impairments, such as people who are colour blind. Design, especially if it is eye-catching is good but always make sure that the text (information) is clear and easy to read.
Images – Images and pictures can be a great way of getting people’s attention and communicating a message across without worrying about language barriers or too much text. However, if you are using images on websites, be mindful of those using a screen reader, as it can disrupt the flow of the text if the image is placed in the middle. It is also important to provide the ‘text alternative’ for images on websites, so that screen readers can read out what the image is for those with visual impairments.
Word alternatives and PDFs – Most public sector organisations will display an online text version for any Word or PDF files that are available to download on their website. Many charities (particularly equality-based organisations) have also followed suit, due to accessibility reasons. In general, PDFs are not accessible to screen readers.
Accessibility Standards for websites – Many websites now have an accessibility statement or a visible ‘accessibility’ tab where users can alter the viewing settings of the website to make it easier to navigate (including options to change the text size, colour and language of a web page). When developing your website, there are both ‘practical’ and ‘technical’ points to consider when improving accessibility. If you are a larger organisation or have access to particular expertise in IT, a recognised standard that many websites work towards is the W3C standards (World Wide Web Consortium) and becoming WAI compliant (Web Accessibility Initiative). Both these standards offer a checklist and guidelines for you to work through, although are better done by someone with technical IT qualifications.