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Developing an accessible house style

Becoming inclusive means ensuring that accessibility is at the heart of your external communications too. The best way to make sure that all your materials are consistent and accessible is to produce clear guidelines for all staff to use. Some organisations may have brand guidelines; others a house style sheet – whatever it is called, it needs to detail what you are going to do to ensure that you communicate clearly. Some information might seem common sense; like using a large enough typesize, but some considerations might be less obvious, determining the type of paper used and how easy it is to turn over. You may need to consider the following:

Your marque or logo – how easy is it to read, both the text itself and as a summation of your brand? Will it be seen as elitist or accessible?

Colours – colour contrast, for images and most importantly for text. For some people, there are also issues around colour blindness (red and green, for example, can be hard for some people to distinguish)

Typography – as well as the information above in relation to font, size, density and so on, consider layout and navigation issues

Tone of voice – how you communicate is as important as the message - is the tone right, or could it be interpreted as patronising or highbrow?

Imagery – imagery and disability can be a complex issue. Ideally images of visibly disabled people should be included within all material in a non-patronising way. Ensure that disabled people are not just represented as audience members or recipients of charity but also as employees and artists.

Product design and paper choice – too many folds or an oversized format can create access issues for some people; floppy materials or those that are too flimsy to turn easily can also be problematic. Consider how your finished product will be used at the design stage and build access in.