Community engagement accessibility is an often overlooked — and essential — part of empowering community stakeholders to use their voices.
Whether you’re an engagement specialist, a communications guru or a seasoned project manager, you know accessibility impacts how your consultation functions and whether or not your team provides equal engagement opportunities.
Here are our quick tips for making your community engagements accessible year-round.
Ditch the fancy vocabulary
In Australia – 1 in every ten people has a cognitive disability that affects their memory, concentration or decision making. Accessible language makes it easier for you to convey important ideas and for your audience to understand them. Some qualities of accessible language include:
- Preferring active voice (“The dog bit me”) to passive voice (“I was bitten by the dog”).
- Eliminating filler phrases such as “I think that” or “Be sure to.”
- Writing out the full names of acronyms, usually at least the first time they appear.
- Using examples and analogies to explain or support complicated ideas.
- Avoiding the use of jargon and slang words that are used only by a particular subgroup or explaining their definition when they appear. You can vet your language using tools like readable.
Level up your closed caption game
Uploading a video to explain your 10-year plan? Make sure you include closed captions: text that describes and displays the auditory portion of a video in written format.
Make your colors count
Color accessibility enables people with visual impairments or color vision deficiencies to interact with digital experiences in the same way as their non-visually-impaired counterparts. Here’s some advice to help boost your community engagement accessibility:
Add enough contrast. To meet W3C’s minimum AA rating, your background-to-text contrast ratio should be at least 4.5:1. So, when designing things like buttons, cards, or navigation elements, be sure to use a tool like colorable or colorsafe to check the contrast ratio of your color combinations.
Document and socialise color system. The most important aspect of creating an accessible color system is giving your team the ability to reference it when needed. This reduces confusion and ensures that accessibility is always a priority. Read more about setting your color scheme here.
Perfect your PDFs
Using PDFs to support community plans is one of the most commonly used formats by governments across the globe; as a universal standard for digital documents, it’s important that PDFs follow the principles outlined above, in that they are easy to read and includes image alt text. In addition, they should also:
- Indicate document structure and non-text elements by using tags
- Specify the document language
- Select document fonts that allow characters to be extracted to text
- Set document permissions to allow access for assistive technology
- Add navigational aids to long documents (6 or more pages)
Check your images
Different images convey different types of information, from functional to informative. Alternative text provides a textual alternative to non-text content in web pages, such as photographs, logos, and other images. Here are the do’s and don’ts:
- Be accurate and equivalent in presenting the same content and function of the image.
- Be succinct.
- Use an image caption instead of an alt-attribute for photos within an article.
- Include text in an image unless that image is a logo
- Duplicate the alternative text from an image caption; instead, leave the ‘alt attribute’ blank.
- Use alternative text to describe decorative elements or visual elements that are not important to the page content
- Be redundant or provide the same information as text within the context of the image.
- Use the phrases “image of …” or “graphic of …” to describe the image.
Making sure all of your stakeholders can have their voices heard is very important to a community’s success. Wondering how else you can improve your organization’s community engagement accessibility? Reach out to us.