Making Your Communications More Accessible

Brook Pritchett, CAEMy client’s website recently went through a User Experience Evaluation, which helped us to better understand areas of our website that weren’t beneficial to our audience. One of the auditors pointed out that the text format made it difficult for color-blind audiences to read.

This simple observation made me wonder “what else are we making inaccessible?” not just from the perspective of the website, but also through all our communications and engagement touchpoints with our members.

Creating more accessible communications is a multi-pronged approach, taking into consideration not only the words that are used but also how your communications are displayed and shared with various audiences.

Accessible Content

  • Avoid metaphors, jargon and idioms so the information you are trying to communicate is clearly interpreted by your audience.
  • Reduce acronyms and abbreviations – Acronyms should be spelled out at least on the first reference. Abbreviations can confuse audiences who might be unfamiliar with the content.
  • Create transcripts and captions for multimedia –For audio-only content, such as a podcast, provide a transcript. For audio and visual content also provide captions. Include in the transcripts and captions the spoken information and sounds that are important. For video transcripts, also include a description of the important visual content.
  • Focus on clarity – Write short, clear sentences and paragraphs. Avoid using unnecessarily complex words and phrases. Consider providing a glossary for terms readers may not know.

Accessible Information Delivery

  • Use a multi-channel approach – When possible, share information on a variety of communications channels.
  • Use Color Contrast – Select design colors that provide sufficient contrast. Using color contrast in your emails is not only a good design choice, but it’s especially helpful for people with color blindness.
  • Use Alt Text – Alternative text (‘alt text’) tells people what is in an image, such as text or basic essential details. When including images in your emails, be sure to provide alternative text for your audience.
  • Provide Plain-Text Emails – Plain-text emails are simple because they don’t contain any images, rich-text formatting, or embedded links. Many people who use screen readers prefer plain-text emails since they provide just the core content of your message.
  • Use San Serif Fonts and Align Text – San serif fonts, such as Arial and Calibri are easier to read and distinguish letters. Additionally, left-justified text and generous line breaks add white space for easier reading.

Visit for more information on creating accessible communications for your audiences.