Accessible Formats

Accessible information

Just like sighted people, blind and visually impaired people need to be able to access all kinds of written information. (This could be anything from a menu, newspaper article, or phone listing to a catalogue or user manual). The information needs to be made accessible.

In the past, printed information was not so accessible and we were reliant upon various sources to gain that information. The access depended upon whether or not we had people to read to us (living nearby who were able to do this), knew braille (if we had learnt it, and if the information was printed in braille), or could still see large print (if our eyesight was still good enough). Nowadays however, overall accessibility is improving. With our ever increasing thirst for knowledge, we have many more options now than we did before. Traditionally, TV and radio have led the way in putting written information into an audio format. The introduction of computers (and other electronic items) with accessible features (such as large print and screen readers), has seen information presented in a lot more formats which makes it far more accessible than ever before. As with any technology, accessibility still has a way to go (for example ensuring that websites are screen reader friendly, or that documents are produced in accessible formats such as doc or html etcetera). The outlook however is promising.

Having access to information provides blind and visually impaired people with a sense of independence.

Which formats are accessible?

Accessible formats include:

Braille

Braille is raised dots that a blind or vision impaired person can feel (if they have learnt braille). Six dots are used to make up the letters from A to Z. (Please visit my braille page for more information). Basic braille Braille may be commonly seen on bank ATM's and various signage (like bus stops, toilet signs and taxis).

Audio

Audio can be spoken onto a tape (which can be used in a cassette player) or recorded onto a CD.  This audio could include files such as wav or mp3. MP3 can be used in the new talking book machines or go portable on a device such as an mp3 player. It can also be used in Windows media player on a computer. Audio also includes screen readers on computers and other devices (such as phones and answering machines) which can read out information to you; and other digital formats that you can listen to (such as video).

DAISY

DAISY books (which are talking books that have been produced in the daisy format), can be used in the new digital talking book machines.

Electronic text

Electronic text includes files such as word/doc, html and plain txt files. Lately, this could also include pdf files (as long as they have been ocr 'd first), so they can be read by a screen reader.

Large print

Large print - size 18 and above - is recommended. Good clear text such as Arial is also recommended.

Good colour contrasts

High contrast combinations such as black on white, white on black or yellow on black make text easier to see for those who have some useful vision. CCTV's (which enlarge text on a screen) also use good colour contrasts.

Useful links

RoboBraille is an online website where you can enter a document and have it converted into a variety of formats. Please visit the following link http://www.robobraille.org/frontpage

Daisy consortium is an online website where you can create Daisy files and other accessible formats. Please visit the following link http://www.daisy.org/tools/conversion

HOME