Top Tips: Creating Accessible Documents

It’s great that you want to make your documents more accessible. We’ve put a list together to help you get started.

A woman with glasses and white hair looks at a tablet screen.

Creating Accessible Documents

 

It’s great that you want to make your documents more accessible. We’ve put a list together to help you get started. However, be aware that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to making information accessible, so be prepared to make changes to how you present your information on request.

 

Don’t make assumptions about what works best for people. Just as you would ask any event attendees if they have any access needs, and how you can help make the event more accessible for them, ask your audience questions- and work with them to find out what format works best for them.

Here are some of the basics:

Types of Documents

Word documents are more accessible for people who use screen readers. A PDF can be tricky to navigate unless the author has designed it to be compatible with screen readers.  Find out how you can make your PDFs compatible. The other option is to include a Word document alongside a PDF.

Font and Styles

Use a simple, sans serif font, such as Arial.

Always use 12pt font size as a minimum.

(If you are giving printed material to someone with vision impairment, remember to ask them what their ideal font size and type would be).

Remember to make headings bigger than body copy so that it’s easy for the reader to navigate while reading.  

Use Camel Case for headings (which is when the first letter of each word is capitalised).  This makes headings easier to read.

Things to avoid:
  • Large amounts of italics or underlining – a little bit here and there is fine to emphasise a word, but avoid using these features for entire paragraphs or pages
  • Block capitals – those with vision impairment rely on the shape of words to read, and block capitals make it difficult
  • Text boxes- as these are hard for screen readers to navigate

Contrast

Ensure there is strong contrast between your text and background.

Some quick tips for colour contrast:

  • Black and white is often best for people with visual impairments, but black text with a light pastel background is often recommended for people with sensory processing differences to reduce harshness of contrast
  • If you are using a dark background, use white text to contrast
  • Avoid pale shades next to each other – it’s hard to define the difference
  • Avoid watermarks or images behind the text as it makes it difficult to read
  • Be consistent with the colours that you use: e.g. Blue text for a particular topic. This helps people grasp key messages or themes

 

Language

Use simple, easy to understand language

Remember not everyone can read English- consider providing an NZSL translation of key information about your business.

If not, the free service NZVIS is a great way to communicate with those for whom NZSL is their first language. Sometimes a relay phone conversation is the best way to get information to a Deaf person- just ask them what works best for them.

Images

Always use Alt Text for images so screen readers can describe the image to the user.

Videos

When linking to video- ensure the video has captions.

Consider providing audio description so Blind and visually impaired people can engage with the visual aspect of the video. Email audiodescribedaotearoa@gmail.com for more information.

 

 

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