Making your text accessible

Tips for better PLELast week, we discussed how your choice of fonts can affect whether your audience finds your print or online public legal education and information (PLE) credible. But choosing the wrong font can also make your PLE materials difficult or impossible for someone with literacy issues or visual challenges to understand.

Indeed, a recent article about a new typeface designed for people with dyslexia suggests that formatting changes can make a big difference for some people – although the jury’s still out on whether fonts like Dyslexie improve legibility on a wider level.

This example illustrates an important point: not everyone can read print or online content that many of us take for granted. A resource prepared by the Association of Registered Designers of Ontario provides many tips which can help make your content more accessible. Here are just a few:

Print content

  • Make sure that your background tone is not too dark for your type – you can check this easily by printing to a black and white printer
  • Choose typefaces that have easily recognizable letterforms – avoid script or overly decorative text
  • Avoid typefaces which are too fat or too narrow – these are harder to read

Online content

  • Make sure the font you’re using has been designed for legibility on screen as well as in print
  • Avoid conveying information through graphic images alone – and make sure that you have “alt text” (text alternatives for images that can be converted into voice or Braille by software programs)
  • Critical navigation choices (such as highlights for link content) should not depend on colour alone – some readers might not be able to distinguish between different colours

See also CLEO’s Better Legal Information Handbook for more information on making your PLE materials understandable for everyone.

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