04 Tips for producing accessible marketing and publicity materials
Many of your audience members, visitors, artists or employees will experience difficulty in reading printed documentation. There will be many different reasons such as;
- Difference in language use i.e. people with dyslexia may read or write some phrases differently; someone whose first language is not English will have some different interpretations and some Deaf people whose use of English will also be slightly different etc.
- Age-related issues may make reading difficult for some e.g. dementia
- Minimal formal education
- A mild intellectual disability
- Varying visual impairments
See the Useful Contacts and References section for contact details for organisations specialising in specific areas of access.
Things to consider when creating accessible marketing and publicity materials:
- Sentences and paragraphs should be short.
- Technical jargon can be very difficult or confusing. Where it really needs to be used, explain any terms clearly.
- Explain all abbreviations the first time you use them e.g. British Sign Language (BSL).
- Use simple punctuation.
- Write in plain, simple English. It’s clearer for everyone. Keep your sentences short and don’t use a complicated word if an easier one will do. For example, replacing long words with short ones e.g. tell, instead of advise. Visit www.plainenglish.co.uk for further guidance.
- Contrast between colours and text should be at least 25%.
- Avoid putting text over images, unless you use a gradient or a semi-transparent layer between the text and the image to ‘smooth’ the image so that the text can be read more clearly.
- Leave space between paragraphs and keep your paragraphs short.
- Avoid glossy papers (they reflect too much light), low paper weights (because text can show through) and paper folds that obscure text.
- With print materials, check your reading age in Microsoft Word. In Tools – Spelling and Grammar – Options tick ‘show readability statistics’. Every spell-check you do will give you a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (the school year your writing is suitable for). Add 5 to this to get the reading ‘age’ – you should aim for a reading age lower than 13 (or 8 on Flesch-Kincaid).
- Invite people to ask for alternative formats – for example, say “please ask us for this information in alternative formats” rather than “this information is available in alternative formats upon request”.
- Know which alternative formats you can supply and how long this will take. Find some suppliers and their costs.
- Keep some funds available for alternative formats.
- Don’t assume ‘alternative formats’ always means Braille. A BSL video or an audio format is just as likely.
- Think of additional benefits of alternative formats: audio brochures are accessible for visually impaired people, people with learning disabilities and people with English as a second language, but did you think about using them to reach a podcast audience?
Working with Designers and Web Developers:
- Marketing materials can’t be all things for all people, but design doesn’t have to be sacrificed for readability.
- If your marketing doesn’t communicate to everybody, then it’s not good design.
- A good designer will see the creative challenge in making your marketing and website attractive and accessible.
- Use images of your work. For each image provide a text alternative that describes the picture (the title is not enough). Check that your website shows this ALT text for every image.
- Make sure your web designer knows that you want your site to be accessible and knows about the tools and standards that can help them make it so. The Worldwide Web Consortium (WC3) publish a list of web accessibility evaluation tools on their website: www.w3.org/WAI/ER/tools/. WC3’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is an accessibility standard for websites, allowing you to achieve an A, AA or AAA rating. For more information, visit their website: www.w3.org/WAI