Updated: Sep 1, 2021
Accessible communication is vital to any relationship, especially between a participant and their provider. Whether that communication is online, through PDF’s or other documents or in-person, understanding accessible communication ensures that any information being shared is not only accessible for the participant, no matter their ability, but also for the provider.
Get to know your client and their needs
Understanding who your clients are and what their needs are as individuals can help you to create the right messaging when communicating with them. If you’re unsure of how to do this, ask yourself:
Who am I speaking to?
What is the purpose of my message or communication with them?
What do I want them to take away from this interaction?
Is the information I am providing accessible to each person I intend to share it with?
Do my communication methods factor in different disabilities (i.e. hearing or visual impairment)?
Have I asked what is the best form of communication for my client?
It’s important to always ensure you’re speaking to your client and not at them, as well as listening their wants and needs, especially around communication methods.
Currently, communication is shifting more and more into an online platform, which is great, but it also means tailoring your communication to ensure accessibility. Whether that be booking appointments online, sharing blogs or resources, sending emails or even having online meetings, however you are communicating with clients in an online platform it’s important to consider how that can impact a person’s ability to view, understand and interact. Online communications should factor in people with disability, including:
Physical mobility (i.e. difficulty using a keyboard or mouse)
Neurological (i.e. seizures due to flashing effects)
Cognitive (i.e. learning disabilities)
You can have your website and online communications reviewed to check if any accessibility issues come up and how to fix those moving forward. One option is to enlist help from Vision Australia who offer auditing services to ensure accessibility.
Top Tips to Get Started with Accessible Online Communications
We’ve come up with some top times and helpful hints to get you started on your accessible communications online.
Font size and colour
Checking that your font size and colour is readable on screen or in any handouts, PDF’s or other documents is a good place to start. Your font size should be at least size 12 for readability purposes and there needs to be a distinct contrast between the font colour and the background colour.
Some people may use image readers, so providing alternative text or ‘alt text’ with your image means that a screen reader can convey the meaning of an image. By doing this it will ensure that the information shared, including the picture can be accessed by people who use screen readers.
Captions and subtitles
If you’re producing video content, using captions or subtitles can be super important in making sure that the information being shared is accessible.
When using links in your online content, rather than putting ‘click here’ buttons everywhere, try adding the hyperlink to the words that describe where the link will go so that the person accessing this information knows what the link is about, and they can decide if they would like to know more on that topic.
There are plenty of other things you can do to ensure accessible communication across your business. If you would like to know more about the accessibility guidelines you can visit the Centre for Accessibility website here.
If you have a participant who is plan managed with First2Care, you can register your details with our First2Care team for quick and easy payment processing. Read more about First2Care Plan Management here.