Ensure that information is available to every user in a form that is accessible to them


Documentation and consumer information can be provided in a variety of forms text, graphics, audio, video, etc. And through a variety of channels print, online, email, telephone, etc. For each form and channel, there will be some users for whom it is not accessible. For example, people with sight loss, low literacy or reading disorders may find it difficult or impossible to read printed information. People who are deaf or hard of hearing will have difficulties with audible information or telephone conversations. Online information can be designed to be accessible to the widest audience but not everyone has access to the internet or email.

Directions and techniques

Adopt a widely accessible standard format for printed information (high priority)

Adopt a standard print format that is as accessible as possible to the largest number of people, within the constraints of branding, marketing considerations and production costs. Making the standard format as accessible as possible minimises the need to produce additional formats for individual users.

Aim for clarity at all time when choosing a typeface or designing a layout. If in doubt, keep it simple.

An appropriate standard format may, for example:

  • Use a font size that is easily read by the widest range of users possible. depending on the typeface used, 12 point could be considered as the minimum type size for standard format. 14 point is commonly used, so more people can access the standard format. print above 16 point is considered to be large print. be printed on matte finish paper, not glossy;
  • Use a good contrast with a plain background for text;
  • Be written in easy to read language, using a mixture of text and graphics.

For more detailed guidance, refer to plain english and make it clear guidelines and the section on literature and application forms in the smart card guidelines.

Make digital and online information accessible to people with disabilities (high priority)

Online documentation should be made accessible to users with disabilities by following theweb content accessibility guidelines (wcag) from the web accessibility initiative (wai), part of the world wide web consortium (w3c). By following these guidelines it is possible to make web-based documentation maximally accessible to almost all users, without compromising significantly on its design and functionality. The result will be a flexible format that individual users can transform to meet their needs by resizing it, changing the colours, having it read out as speech or converting it to braille for example.

Wcag is the de facto international standard for web content accessibility and is referenced in legislation in a number of countries. In Ireland, compliance with wcag at level aa is recommended in the NDA code of practice on accessibility of public services and information provided by public bodies. This is an approved code of practice for the purposes of the disability act, 2005 and relates to sections 26, 27 and 28 of the act which cover access to information and services.

Supply additional accessible formats where required (high priority)

Users who cannot read the standard printed information and do not have access to online documentation (e.g. Those without internet access) should be able to request the information in additional formats that meet their needs. These may include large print (of various sizes), braille, audio or a sign language version (for instance on dvd).

Information on accessible formats can be found in the NDA publication first steps in producing accessible publications.

Information contained in an alternative format should be equivalent to that contained in the standard format. This may require information that is presented using diagrams or screen shots to be made available within the text instructions.

How you could test for this

Online documentation and information sources should be tested for accessibility and usability. This testing can take the form of an audit or user testing, including testing by people with disabilities. An accessibility audit can be conducted on all key sections of the website to ensure that they adhere to the relevant web accessibility guidelines. The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design at the National Disability Authority provides guidelines on web accessibility auditing which describe how to commission and what outputs to expect.