by Emma Major and Laura Neale
In our first post about digital inclusivity this month, we shared a conversation with Sarah about how she can feel excluded as an autistic person online. We hope you found it helpful though we're sure it raised some questions about how you can improve your digital accessibility.
This second post aims to provide some simple tips and changes you can make. Some of these have been mentioned in previous posts and they demonstrate the importance of making your website and social media accessible for everyone.
Clear Design and Layout
Ensure that your website design is clearly structured and well-ordered without clutter or irrelevant images. Provide text descriptions for images and refer to them in the associated text.
We've included a picture below from the National Autistic Society's website. It links to two stories from their Spectum magazine which can be found at this link: https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/stories
Easy Read Text
Many of us have been taught to write using complex sentences and words that aren't used by the majority of people in normal conversations; these words and phrases aren’t accessible to everyone.
Easy Read is a way of translating difficult information and making it easy to understand. Easy Read information uses simple words in short sentences, with pictures to help explain the words.
Even if you don't use pictures to explain information, it is important to ensure that your information is unambiguous and easy to read by everyone.
Here's an example of an Easy Read leaflet from a company called a2i who design Easy Read documents and leaflets. You can find them at this link: https://a2i.co.uk/
Contrast and Colour Options
Provide an option for lower contrast and less colours in your website; this can reduce the visual impact of the website and make it easier to access.
The government's web designers put together a helpful page in this here: https://accessibility.blog.gov.uk/2016/06/17/colour-contrast-why-does-it-matter/
Provide information before video conferencing meetings
To ensure that everyone is able to access your video conferences there are four easy things to do:
Ask people if they have specific access needs
Provide details of the event beforehand including expectations, timings and breaks
Be clear that it is ok to take a break if you need one
Provide presentations beforehand to allow people to access them in ways that work for them
Ensure people feel comfortable to not show their face on camera if they don’t wish to
Again - there's a great list of ideas here from Abilitynet.org.uk: https://abilitynet.org.uk/news-blogs/how-host-accessible-online-meeting and they even had a webinar about it:
Provide Written Communication Channels
Not everyone is happy with audio or visual means of communication. Many people have enjoyed webinars and video conferences, especially during the pandemic, but some people find them inaccessible. By providing written forms of communication alongside video or audio formats, you will increase the number of people who are able to be involved.
These tips are not exhaustive but we hope they start you thinking about how to improve your accessibility. We would recommend that you read wider to ensure your online provision is fully accessible.