This month’s blog is written by our client and inclusivity guru Barry Sawyer from BDS Communications. What Barry doesn’t know about communicating with disabled consumers isn’t worth knowing…
Recent figures estimate there are more than 13 million disabled people in the UK. Many of these people have problems accessing communications due to conditions such as dyslexia, learning disabilities, or visual and hearing impairments.
Most disabled people get their information from mainstream channels and at BDS Communications we advise public and private sector clients how to make sure their communications are as accessible as possible. Not only does this ensure that communicators are more effective in reaching their target audience, it also enables clients to meet their obligations under the Equality Act, and (for those in the public sector) the Equality Duty.
Access for all
Something as simple as increasing the text size and contrast in a press ad or writing in clear English can improve accessibility. This not only helps people with the impairments mentioned above, it also helps all the intended target audiences such as people with low literacy and ‘people of a certain age’. (I’m sure a lot of us whose sight might not be what it was have skipped text in an ad or poster because the text wasn’t easy to read.)
And it goes without saying that grammatically correct and accurate content is essential, so we rely on Rachel and the team at Accuracy Matters to be our second pair of eyes and authors of clear English copy.
It’s worth noting that, however accessible mainstream communications are, there is also a need to consider alternative formats such as Braille and audio.
Easy read communications
A big part of what we do is producing ‘easy reads’ for people with learning disabilities. Easy read communications are essentially greatly simplified versions of standard communications (such as leaflets or reports) and contain just the key information with pictures to help illustrate each point.
Significantly, easy read communications are written and tested with people with learning disabilities. It is amazing how often when text is revised down to its bare bones it forces clients to crystallise what they really mean!
In keeping the copy simple, easy reads do not always follow standard rules of grammar and punctuation and this is where Accuracy Matters really help us. The team help us to edit and proofread our easy read communications and they have been great in understanding the challenges of easy reads and adapting the ‘rules’ of writing accordingly.
Easy reads aren’t just for people with learning disabilities. They can be used by people with low literacy, dyslexia and dementia. And they’ve even been used by colleagues to get a quick overview!
To find out more about communicating with disabled and hard-to-reach audiences, email email@example.com