Accessible and inclusive communications

I went on a bit of an online search spree to find the definition of ‘accessible and inclusive communication’, being communicated inclusively. You’d think anyone writing about inclusivity, would apply their own advice to their communication, but this wasn’t the case.

I did find a few websites that really stood out, for example The Scottish Government provide clear and concise information on what accessible communication is, and they are communicating this information in an inclusive way.

Inclusive communication means sharing information in a way that everybody can understand.

The Scottish Government website 2021

The inclusive umbrella

During my search I noticed a lot of ambiguity about what inclusive or accessible communication means.
Some focused on making communication suitable for those who have mental or physical impairments, others aim at making communication more inclusive for all recipients regardless of ethnicity, language, identity, ability, sociology, education level. Etc.

Accessibility focus areas

Personally I think we should be approaching inclusive and accessible communication on a more universal level.
I have an increasing passion in my role to improve the inclusivity and accessibility of all communications across all channels so we become true enablers.

My initial focus is to utilise best practice and accessibility features within our current tools like Microsoft Office, Adobe and various content management systems. These best practice and features include:

  • Using high contrast text/background
  • Adding effective alternative text for all online images to improve the user experience for users of screen reader software.
  • Content preparation based on end-user accessibility features (language translation, screen contrast, voice to text annotation, text to voice screen readers)
  • Remove use of idioms, jargon, acronyms, hypothetical statements, rhetorical questions, and passive voice to provide better clarity.
  • Effective use of white space and page layouts that improve absorption of information
  • Using the Flesch-Kincaid readability checker on all communications designed for large groups
  • Raising awareness of accessible communication and the benefits of being holistically inclusive

Final thoughts…

Accessibility and inclusive communication is not something you ‘add on’ to your communication, it is not an after thought or a finessing process.

All communication should be built on accessible and inclusive foundations; only then will we be enablers.

Comment and share

If you have any advice or experience on how you have implemented inclusive and accessible communication, please comment and share your ideas.

Resources

Principles of Inclusive Communication
An information and self-assessment tool for public authorities – The Scottish Government

Guidance
How to produce communications that include, accurately portray, and are accessible to disabled people – The UK Government

Inclusive communication strategies
A universal approach to an safer and more inclusive workplace – The inclusive workplace

Flesch-Kincaid Level score
Assesses the readability of your document – Microsoft Word

Microsoft accessibility features
Technology that reflects the diversity of all who use it – Microsoft

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