Blog

Making union communications more accessible

Honour Bayes and Steph Izzard · 1 September 2021

As part of Rep’s Fortnight, we’ve been putting together some top tips on how to write clear and accessible communications for branches.

A graphic of a computer and programme graphics coming out of it to signify accessible working

Using content produced by the Home Office, we have published a series of accessibility posters to help reps and members make their communications as accessible as possible.

We’ve also produced a series of support articles unpacking each poster and outlining the Dos and Don’ts for each, in a clear text based format which matches best accessibility practice.

This content caters to users with:

Where to start with accessibility?

It may seem daunting to try to meet all these recommendations, but there are some rules which crossover a number of accessibility issues, as well as forming the basis of good clear communications.

Use a readable font size

Small text is harder to read, so it’s best to stick to at least 12pt in printed documents. If the text won’t fit into the space you have, it’s better to cut some text so the font can be kept larger, rather than reducing its size. Thinking in this way also assists with the next recommendation, use plain language.

Use plain language

Plain language is reader-friendly because it’s clear, concise, and precise; it means using short, action-driven sentences free of jargon to make language accessible and easy to understand. The average reading age in the UK is nine years old (source ONS), so making your message easier to read will help you reach a broader audience. Online text editors such as Hemingway can help to simplify your message.

Use good colour contrasts

Poor colour contrast can make it difficult for people to understand your text or diagrams. For example, light grey text on a light background would be hard to see. If you’re unsure about a contrast you can always check online using tools like Accessible Colors.

Make your hyperlinks descriptive

People without impairment can scan pages to find links to useful information from within the context of a page. However for people who use assistive technology, like screen readers, it will not be possible to quickly do the same unless the hyperlinked text is clear. Rather than write “click here”, which could become confusing, if there is more than one link on a page, use descriptive hyperlinks that clearly state what you are downloading i.e. ‘we have published a series of accessibility posters‘.

Describe images and use transcripts for videos

Alternative text, known as ‘alt text’, is a simple text description of an image and for members using a screen reader it means they will be able to hear and understand what the image is of. In the same way providing transcripts for videos means that those whose are deaf or hard of hearing will be able to successfully experience and understand the content. Platforms like Otter.ai can be used to create transcripts of meetings and are free to use.

An ongoing journey

We recognise that this work is an ongoing journey and we’re always working to make our own communications more accessible.

It’s important not to strive for perfection but to understand that any steps you take to make your communications more inclusive will be a giant leap in reaching more members. In doing so you’ll be promoting maximum inclusion and engagement within the union.