HELPING YOU TO ACCESS INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR HEALTH
A huge amount of information surrounds us every day, from cafe menus to bus timetables, bank statements to bills. Information which can impact on our lives and the decisions we make.
In 2007, the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) estimated that there were two million people in the UK with a sight problem, and many others with types of disability for whom inaccessible information is an everyday occurrence. They estimated that in the UK, there are around 20,000 people who used Braille to read information.
The RNIB recommended that information should therefore be made available in a variety of formats and not just as print. This could include large print, braille, audio/CD or electronic formats, including email and electronic attachments.
Print is considered the normal method for presenting information. Many people with a visual impairment or other disability can read print as long as it is presented designed in a way that meets their needs. Some people use magnification or certain lighting to improve readability. It is important to make sure that print is clear. This means bringing together basic RNIB recommended design elements such as font style, type size, contrast and colour. Documents that use clear print will find a wider audience because they are easier to read. Producing information which isn’t accessible within the guidance will reduce the number of people who can access the information.
The Department of Health and Isle of Man Government has adopted standards for readability and accessibility agreed with the RNIB and Manx Blind Welfare Society, which include the use of Tahoma Typeface, an easy-to-read typeface, type size, upper and lower case text and text which is left aligned on the page. Most people read by remembering word shapes and so information presented in italics or capitals is harder for partially sighted people to read, since it is difficult to recognise word shapes if the letters are all the same height, set at an angle or underlined.
The contrast between text and the background on which it is printed is extremely important. Contrast is affected by paper colour, text colour and any images placed behind text. White paper and black ink provides the best contrast as does avoiding placing text over photographs/illustrations, even if they are in a pale tint.
Alternative formats - The Department of Health’s commitment to providing you with information in a format which meets your needs include a number of alternative formats available on request to the manager of the service, including large print, audio tape/CD and Braille. In addition, all printed information includes the statement:
“The information in this publication can be provided in large print or audio tape/CD on request”
In the case of a publication where the majority of text is tables or figures, the information can be provided in large print only.
Large print - Larger print is essential for many people. No single size is suitable for everyone. Large print is usually in the range of 16 to 22 point.
Audio/CD - Audio information has the benefit of being usable by anyone who owns a cassette or CD player, but audio cassettes offer limited navigability. The track facility on audio CDs makes navigating around large documents much easier but has the limitation that users can only navigate to the beginning of a track, rather than a specific point within it. If you would like information on audio or CD, please request this from the manager of the service, who will arrange for you to receive the information on either format, working closely with the Manx Blind Welfare Society.
Braille - Braille is a system of raised dots made up of combinations of six dots, arranged in two columns of three. The 63 possible combinations correspond to letters of the alphabet, punctuation and letter groups or words. If you write to us in Braille, we will ensure that you receive a reply in Braille and we arrange this working closely with the Manx Blind Welfare Society.