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 Preparing Accessible Print

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BenedictTechnician
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Join date : 2010-06-22
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PostSubject: Preparing Accessible Print   Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:16 pm

ACCESSIBLE PRINT- GUIDELINES FOR THE PRODUCTION OF LEARNING MATERIALS FOR PEOPLE WITH A VISUAL IMPAIRMENT

N.B Although the following points are made specifically in relation to provision for people who have a visual impairment, many of the principles for creating accessible print materials also have a bearing upon people with other reading difficulties.

Up to 70% of those people who are registered as “blind” can be enabled to read printed material, if the material is presented using appropriate print size, weight, font and format, on the most suitable background.

Print preference is a very individual matter, depending upon the nature of the person’s remaining vision, and a thorough assessment is recommended in order to ensure that the most appropriate adaptations are made. However, there are some general guidelines which may prove useful and some pointers towards areas for consideration.

Adapting standard print for the use of people who are visually impaired and others with reading difficulties, can be undertaken with relative speed and ease since the advent of scanners, computers and printers. There are 4 main techniques:

1) Try to produce, or have produced, as much material as possible via a computer storing the original on floppy disk for easy retrieval and adaptation. Material which is created on a computer can simply be reprinted, using a suitable size, weight, font etc. giving some consideration to content and layout of course.

Use of a laser printer or quality ink jet printer is recommended in order to ensure adequate quality and density of print.

Before setting about the adaptation of any standard material, it is advisable to enquire if the original is on disc, as this can save much time otherwise spent scanning or retyping.

2) Standard material can be scanned into a computer, size, font, layout etc. altered, and the adapted version printed. It is always worth trying to obtain the original version of any piece of standard, unless copies are very good, as this increases the chances of an accurate scan.

3) If print quality or layout will not allow for scanning, standard material may have to be retyped in an appropriate font etc. and the adapted version printed. This is time consuming and labour intensive, but in many cases, may prove necessary.

4) If speed is essential, quality is adequate and sufficient size and clarity can be achieved, material may be enlarged via the enlarging facility on a photocopier.
This method may be fast, but it is not always satisfactory.

A3 enlargements should be avoided if possible. They are bulky, unwieldy and difficult to handle, especially if you still need to hold material quite close in order to see it. They also take up space and can draw attention to the person using them. Try folding standard A4 materials in half (making them AS) and enlarge them onto A4 using an enlargement of 141% if possible.

Photocopying poor quality print generally only serves to emphasise further the print faults rather than increasing accessibility.

AREAS FOR CONSIDERATION
Most visually impaired people benefit from an increase from standard print size, but some may only need greater weight and clarity. It is a very individual matter, but as a general rule, print designed for people with a visual impairment should be no less than 16 point.

Print should have sufficient weight in order to create maximum contrast with its background. As a general rule, bold is best.

Font is important. It needs to be clear and unfussy, sans serif such as arial is preferred. Avoid italics and any unnecessary use of capitalisation. Capitals are more difficult to read than lower case letters, so large print does not mean write it all in capitals!

Background paper needs consideration. It must be matt finish not gloss. It must be sufficiently light in colour to maintain good contrast with print (no black print on red paper for instance), but some readers find the glare from white paper is uncomfortable, they may prefer pale yellow, cream or green for instance, it is a very individual matter.

Overwriting should always be avoided.

Keep right margin unjustified, it makes tracking and identifying landmarks on a page much easier.

Print should be well spaced and broken up into manageable chunks. Huge, unbroken screeds of text are very off-putting and difficult to navigate.

Layout should be consistent and follow a logical sequence. Avoid the random chaotic presentation which forces you to have to dot about and scan the page in order to ensure you have picked up all the information.

Do use numbering and lettering to separate points. Use bullets and asterisks and line spacing for the same purpose. Use underlining to emphasise points and indicate headings.
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