Making documents accessible
Who does this affect?
This will affect anyone who produces printed information for consumers about their products or services. for example:
- food packaging
- shelf-edge tickets
How do I make printed documents more accessible?
This is not an authoritative statement of the law and is intended for guidance only. Reference should be made to the legislation for more detailed information.
- Use at least a 12 point type for all publications.
However, RNIB recommends the use of 14 point to reach more people with sight problems.
- Stick to typefaces people are familiar with and recognise
Avoid italic, simulated handwriting and ornate typefaces as these can be difficult to read.
- Avoid capital letters as they are generally harder to read
A word or two in capitals is fine but avoid the use of capitals for continuous text.
- Avoid light type weights
People with sight problems often prefer bold or semi-bold weights to normal ones.
- Ensure text and background colour provide enough contrast
If using white type, make sure the background colour is dark enough to provide contrast. If using black type, make sure the background colour is light enough to provide contrast.
- choose a typeface in which the numbers are clear
Readers with sight problems can easily misread 3, 5, 8 and 0.
Spacing and Alignment
- Keep to the same amount of space between each word
Do not condense or stretch lines of type. The RNIB recommends aligning text to the left margin as it is easy to find the start and finish of each line and keeps the spaces even between words. It is best to avoid justified text as people can mistake large gaps between words for the end of the line.
- Make sure the margin between columns clearly separates them
If you have limited space, use a vertical rule.
- The space should be 1.5 to 2 times the space between words on a line
- Ensure headings and page numbers are always in the same place
A contents list and rules to separate different sections are also useful.
- Leave a space between paragraphs
Dividing the text up gives the eye a break and makes reading easier.
- Allow extra space on forms
This is because partially sighted people tend to have handwriting larger than average. This will also benefit people with conditions that affect the use of their hands, such as arthritis.
- Line length should be between 60-70 letters per line
Lines that are too long or too short tire the eyes. The same applies to sentence and paragraph lengths, which should also be neither too long nor too short.
- Avoid glossy paper because it makes it difficult to read
Choose uncoated paper that weighs over 90gsm.
- If the text is showing through from the reverse side, then the paper is too thin
- When folding paper, avoid creases which obscure the text
- Try not to use a binding method that is difficult to flatten
This is so People who use screen magnifiers can place the document flat under the magnifier
- Avoid fitting text around images
This can mean that lines of text start in a different place, making it difficult to find.
- Set text horizontal
This is because vertical set text is very difficult for a partially sighted reader to follow, for example setting text over images, or photographs. This will affect the contrast and, if a partially sighted person is avoiding images, they will miss the text.
- The better the contrast, the more legible it is
The size and weight of the type will effect the contrast.
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