Creating documents that are accessible to all, regardless of disability, is not just good business sense; it’s the law. After all, information contained on important documents like bills, notices and statements help us make decisions and lead independent lives. By restricting information by only creating one standard format, you’re not just harming partially sighted people; you’re going against the right to information in article 21 of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Furthermore if you are a business in the US or Canada, it is worth noting that considerable settlements have been awarded in the courts for firms not complying with relevant statutes with regards to accessibility leading many organisations towards seeking professional accessibility services from established service providers including http://www.crawfordtech.com/. These statutes include section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act of 2005.
Consequently, making information accessible in an age where people are living longer (and where sight problems increase with age) should be common sense. But what type of formats can help you serve your visually impaired customers and help you comply with regulations?
One of the most common formats for accessibility, the tactile reading system is used by blind or partially sighted individuals to interpret information from all manner of documents. In braille, standard characters are replaced by cells that contain tiny bumps called raised dots, with the arrangement of certain dots representing letters.
Fortunately, almost any type of documents can be put into braille and a number of agencies can help with transcribing documents into Grade 1 and Grade 2 braille.
Partially-sighted individuals will find a large print format useful. Agencies can reformat and enlarge text on a specific document to a minimum of 16 point text and can go larger if need be, ensuring that clients are able to access their personal and confidential information independently.
An audio version of important documents can be useful not just for the partially-sighted but for those with low literacy levels or learning difficulties. External agencies can provide crystal clear audio on CD and mp3 format for clients who are auditory dependent and need to interpret technical documents, billing statements or other important documents.
For individuals with screen reader applications, documents converted to electronic format can be incredibly useful – especially as a greater number of people with sight problems are using e-book platforms. While not a direct alternative to braille or audio, e-text formats are helpful as a number of screen readers come with their own font-sizing settings; a setting which is incredibly helpful for those with sight issues.
By complying with legislation and addressing the needs of your visually-impaired customer base, you are setting an example in your industry through the promotion of independence for your disabled customers. Furthermore, you are also adhering to laws set in your region – whether that’s the US or Europe – as well as regulations laid down by the UN.