Making information accessible

There are various ways of making information accessible for blind and partially sighted users:

Contents:

Large print

  • Some blind or partially sighted users may be able to read Clear print. Clear print refers to the size of the font used. It is advisable to use a font of minimum 12 point, although the RNIB recommend 14 point.
  • Most blind or partially sighted people prefer print to be between 16 and 22 point, but it is always advisable to ask individuals for their preference.
  • Documents should be printed in high resolution.

Some points to consider:

  • Use a clear font such as Arial, Serif, or Verdana.
  • Check the line spacing, making sure there is enough space between the lines.
  • Try not to split words between two lines.
  • Align text to the left margin.
  • Keep the page layout formatted and clear.
  • Leave a blank line between paragraphs.
  • Check the contrast between the background and the text.
  • Do not write sentences in capital letters.
  • If there are images, separate the image from the text and check they are clearly defined.

Printed text can be enlarged with the use of a photocopier or scanner. The Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Act 2002 introduced exceptions to copyright law, which remove the need for anyone to obtain permission from the rights holder to produce an accessible copy. This does not, however, cover everyone with a disability. For further information see: RNIB document: Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Act 2002.

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Braille

The University has purchased a Braille printer, located in the Access Unit, 4th Floor, Students Union. This comprises a printer, linked to a computer in the same way as a text printer, using specialist embosser software to convert text into Braille for printing out. 

This equipment can be used by staff and visually impaired students within the University to print out small documents, such as exam papers, forms etc.  Large documents requiring conversion into Braille should be sent to an external agency. A local agency who provide Braille transcription services are A2i Transcription Services, Tel: 01179 440044, email: info@a2i.co.uk.

If you require access to this equipment, please contact the Access Unit on 0117 954 5726 or email access-unit@bristol.ac.uk. Training can be provided to enable staff to utilise the equipment.  A small supply of Braille paper is available within the Access Unit, the cost of which will be charged to individual departments.

There are a number of companies who can be commissioned to provide information in Braille. (See Transcription services below).

 Please note: Always check turn-around times and timescales well in advance.

There are 2 types of Braille to consider:

  • Grade 1 Braille produces letter-by-letter translation.
  • Grade 2 Braille has dot combinations to represent common letter groups.

Grade 2 tends to be the option that is mostly used as it takes up less space and is quicker to read, but always ask the individual for their preference.

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Electronic format and email

Mostly anything can be made available electronically via:
  • Email
  • CD-ROM
  • Internet
  • Audio files

A document should be clear and simple. Where possible, a text only option should be made available. Most blind users will use a screen reader such as JAWS to access their electronic information. The screen reader will ignore any diagrams or graphics and continue to read the text only. Try not to include tables as these can cause difficulties for the screen reader and someone who is visually impaired using a screen magnifier such as Zoomtext. Note: Screen readers read in a linear fashion from left to right and will not pickup on highlighted or underlined text.

The University provides access to information using JAWS screen reader and Zoomtext magnification software in the Assistive Technology Room situated in the Arts and Social Sciences Library.

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Audio tape

Although not the most practical solution for every type of information, audio tape can benefit a number of people who have difficulty with printed materials or who prefer to listen to, rather than read, material. For example:

  • Blind and Partially Sighted
  • People with learning and reading difficulties, such as Dyslexia
  • The Elderly
  • Can be used as a revision technique
Some points to consider:
  • Label the tape appropriately
  • Start each tape with full details of the contents
  • Indicate how the start of each section is marked
  • Indicate how long the recording is
  • Indicate what is on each side of the tape
  • Listen to the tape yourself to check that the content is clear

The RNIB have a library of over 16,000 titles in their Talking Book service. For further information see the Talking Books and Daisy Players page on the RNIB website.

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Well-designed signage

  • San Serif Fonts are recommended by the RNIB and the characters should preferably be between 15mm and 50mm high.
  • Symbols, Logos and pictures should be clear, consistent and easy to understand.
  • Text should not be displayed in all uppercase.
  • Character colours should contrast well with the colour of the sign.
  • Signs should be non-reflective.
  • Positioning of signs should be considered - height, background colour.
  • Where possible, Braille embossed characters should be provided as an option for reading the sign. The Braille characters should be located directly below the text, while tactile arrows can be used to indicate a direction (these should be positioned on the same side of the sign as the arrow is pointing).

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Tactile graphics and maps

Tactile graphics are raised lines and shapes of a visual image that can be felt with the fingers. The graphic image is not an identical replica of the original image and therefore the original requires re-designing for tactile conversion. Maps of the University precinct can be replicated in tactile format and are extremely helpful for some blind and partially sighted users, although orientation visits are still essential in advance of attendance.

The National Centre for Tactile Diagrams can provide further information and can be commissioned to produce graphics. For further information see the National Centre for Tactile Diagrams website.

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Accessible websites

To cater for all needs, websites should be flexible in design to enable individuals to use their own browser and adjust the text and colour settings.
  • Poor design can make a website completely inaccessible.
  • Always consider design for all.
  • Text versions are the most versatile way to make content available to all, as these can be read out loud using screen readers, printed on paper, or converted into an alternative format such as Braille.
  • Always try to offer a text only version of your website.

The University provides guidelines for writing usable and accessible web content. For further information, see:

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Telephone services: making information accessible to deafblind people

Deafblindness is a very individual disability and each individual will have different needs. It is always best to check with them for the best way to provide information. There are several ways of communicating via telephone:

  • Standard telephone
  • Text telephone
  • Text Relay

Standard telephone

Some deafblind people have a certain amount of hearing and can therefore communicate via standard telephone either with or without hearing aids.

  • Always remember to speak clearly and at a consistent pace.
  • Always check if the other person can hear and understand you.
  • Try to avoid any background noise.

Text telephones

If you and the person you are trying to contact both have a Textphone, you should be able to phone them direct. Some deafblind people may have access to the telephone through their computer and with the use of a Braille display or large character software.

Text Relay

Text Relay (known as Typetalk prior to March 2009) uses operators to communicate with the deafblind person for you. Provided the person you are trying to contact has a text telephone then you can use this service. For further information see the Text Relay website.

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Other Information and points to consider

Planning

  • Forward planning is essential for the preparation of materials into Braille, large print etc, and to ensure that disabled students receive their material at the same time as their peers.
  • Ensure reading lists are made available well in advance of the course start date.
  • Plan in advance; consider the specific requirements, delivery and materials. Delivery of your lectures may need to be reconsidered to accommodate all specific needs.
  • Overhead transparencies and presentations should be read out loud and, where possible, made accessible to your blind and partially sighted audience.
  • Do not stand with your back to a light or window, or in a dark area of the room.
  • If a guide dog is present then water should be made available. The guide dog is a working dog and should not be approached or fed unless the owner gives permission to do so. Other students and staff present should be made aware of this.

Transcription services

There are number of transcription companies that will provide services such as Large Print, Braille and audio:

A2i Transcription Services

Tel: (01179)  440 044
Email: info@a2i.co.uk
Website: www.a2i.co.uk

RNIB

Helpline: (0303) 123 9999
Email: helpline@rnib.org.uk
Website: www.rnib.org.uk

Adept Transcription Ltd

Tel : (0208) 133 5418
Email: transcription@adept-uk.org
Website: www.adept-uk.org

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