Five tips on how to make your communications more accessible
One of the key challenges for all charities is making their communications as accessible as possible to a range of audiences. We asked Christine Fleming from CharityComms to share her top tips.
Great communication should be about connecting with people. It has the power to educate, inspire and empower others to go out and forge their own connections. So making comms as accessible as possible for everyone is incredibly important.
CharityComms is lucky enough to be in a position where we get to talk with charity communicators every day. They share insights about the projects they are working on and the challenges they face, and one topic that kept coming up was accessibility. So when the opportunity arose we were delighted to be able to work with our charity network to create a new ‘Accessible Communication’ resource.
Hopefully the resource will act as a starting point for building more accessibility into everyone’s comms – including our own. We also want it to spark conversations about this important topic so that we can all pool our knowledge and learn together. Everyone’s needs, and preferences, for absorbing information are different so ensuring comms are as accessible as possible makes sense if we want to be heard.
The Accessible Communication resource draws on the expertise of those in the charity sector who are already doing great work in this area. Here are their top tips:
1. Use plain English
This came up time and again when speaking to contributors.
Try to use simple sentences that avoid jargon, abbreviations and acronyms. An easy way to check for this is using a free tool like the online hemingwayapp which will flag any areas of improvement for you to look at.
2. Check your contrast
This is something that actually came up for CharityComms itself as part of creating the accessible communications resource. It’s important to check the contrast between a background and the text that it has on it. If the contrast between the two things is not high enough then people may not be able to read it. One recommendation we were given was to use the WebAIM: Contrast Checker to help us check.
3. Think about screen reader users
Lots of people use screen readers not just the visually impaired, so make sure that your content works with them. The best advice we were given was to download one of the free screen readers that are available and experience what someone using one to access our communications experiences for ourselves.
4. Don’t forget about social media
With social platforms being such a core part of communications activities these days its important to make things accessible here too. This means making sure there is alt text on images, subtitles on videos, any gifs used don’t flash more than three times per second, and CamelCase is used in hashtags. And that is just a start, take a look at RNIB’s piece in the guide for more tips and advice.
5. Always remember the importance of representation
The best way to understand the needs of others is to ask those with lived experience what they need and be ready to listen. What we learnt from our contributors was that internal inclusion groups can be invaluable in helping you understand how to make your comms more accessible.
If you have people in your organisation with accessibility needs, have a conversation with them first. And ask your audience to feedback so that you know what you need to improve in order to make things easier. It is not their job to educate you but they can help act as a sounding board.
As we say in the Accessible Communication resource, this is just the start of the conversation. At CharityComms we, like you, are on the journey to more accessible comms and we are excited to rise to the challenge. Making things more accessible benefits everyone and we can’t wait to hear what other people are doing to make this happen and to learn together as a sector.
Christine Fleming is Head of Digital Content at CharityComms