Create accessible communications

Barnwood Trust’s Our Changing World report highlighted the barriers to communication and lack of accessible information during the Covid-19 pandemic. This has made life more difficult for many people in Gloucestershire and impacted on their mental wellbeing.

Here are some things to think about when creating accessible communications, such as when producing posters, signs or written information so that they can be understood by everyone.

First ask yourself, who is the material for? If there are lots of different people, think about the simplest and clearest way to present the information so that the greatest number of people will understand it.

Next, think about whether any adjustments will help to ensure that no one is left out. People who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired, autistic, learning disabled or experiencing dementia, as well as people who are learning English, may need information in a different format that works best for them. Such as, easy read or symbol-based information, large print, audio, or British Sign Language interpreted videos.

General pointers for written documents

  • Use a clear, easy to read font (e.g. Arial) in at least size 16pt for written documents; much larger for posters and signs
  • Use short, clear sentences and avoid complicated words or jargon
  • Where possible use images or simple icons alongside text to aid understanding
  • Use 1.5 line spacing and allow room around text and images to make the page less daunting or busy looking
  • Use bullet-points and sub-headings to break up information
  • Use numbers as figures (1, 2, 3 etc.) rather numbers as words
  • Have a pale, single coloured background behind the text, making sure there is good colour contrast with the text
  • Avoid printing onto a shiny or glossy paper
  • Consider providing the information in a digital format that supports screen readers or provide as an audio file
  • Provide a contact telephone number and an email address so that someone can ask for more information or ask for it in a format that works best for them

General pointers for website and social media

  • Add descriptions or use alt-text for images
  • Add subtitles to videos
  • Think about whether a post still make senses with only the audio or visual elements
  • Use a clear font size and style, as with printed text
  • Use a clear colour contrast for text and images against the background
  • Avoid emojis, these could be difficult to read or understand
  • Use capital letters to punctuate a hashtag, such as #LetsBeClear

General pointers for signage and use of space

Changes being made to workspaces, shops and cafés to make them covid-secure will have an impact on a range of people with sensory impairments, physical impairments, autism, a learning disability or dementia. Here are some things to think about when making signage or arranging your space:

  • Make signs and instructions clear and consistent
  • Try not to bombard people with too much information, keep it short and sweet
  • Wherever possible use symbols rather than words. For example, ticks and crosses are easier to understand when directing people where they can or cannot go
  • Use consistent colours with good contrast
  • Use a clear font size and style and limited text
  • If you need to rearrange a space, allow room around furniture and fixtures. Think about whether a person in a wheelchair or a person with an assistance dog can move about easily
  • If you make changes to a space be aware that assistance dogs may be trained to navigate the space in a particular way and someone with a visual impairment or autism may find the changes challenging, so be ready to help if needed
  • Be prepared to adapt and improve your space or signage in response to what people tell you they need (but remember, what works for one person may not work for someone else)

There are useful links and further information to help with accessibility and communication here.

We are learning too. If you have any helpful advice or resources to share about how to make communications clearer, we will be pleased to hear from you. Contact lucy.adam@barnwoodtrust.org to tell us more.

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