Disability Confident - make it your business: Top tips for communicators

The CIPR and the minister for disabled people, Mark Harper, have launched a booklet to help comms professionals land their messages more effectively with diverse audiences.

Be careful of your terminology, says Richard Caseby
Be careful of your terminology, says Richard Caseby
There are 12 million disabled people in the UK, and if you bear a few simple tips in mind early on, you can remove the barriers that could prevent your audience from engaging with you. 

Accessibility or inclusiveness does not mean you have to compromise on design or brand integrity; it just needs to be included in the creative process.

Adopting good practice as standard practice makes good business sense and can deliver quick wins. 

Here are some top tips to help you make your comms more inclusive:

• Terminology is important – use the terms ‘disabled people’ or ‘people with health conditions’ rather than ‘the disabled’; ‘blind and partially sighted people’ rather than ‘the blind’. Getting these words and phrases right is a simple way to show understanding and create empathy.

• Avoid phrases like ‘suffers from’ which suggests discomfort in some way or ‘confined to a wheelchair’ – it is much more positive to say that someone ‘is a wheelchair user’.

• Think about your choice of font as it can have a big impact on your comms. The most accessible fonts are 'sans serif' such as Arial or Calibri. Serif fonts can distract the eye, making it more difficult to read. This is particularly the case in digital formats where the text may blur around the edges.

• Try to left align your text or use unjustified text where you can. Justified or centralised text puts uneven spacing between the words, which can cause difficulty for people with dyslexia, some types of visual impairment or a learning disability.  

• An increasing number of comms are digital. Some website designs can create barriers for disabled people. Best practice can be found in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) produced by W3C, the web’s governing body.

• If you get into the habit of giving a little extra thought to what you need to do at the start of a project, you will save time and money, and your messages will reach a wider audience.

Click on the link to find the full version of the booklet

Richard Caseby is director of comms at the Department for Work and Pensions

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