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Guide to Accessible Communication


Copyright © 2011 by Sara Hall Illustrations copyright © 2011 by Sara Hall All rights reserved. No portion of this guide may be reproduced–mechanically, electronically, or by any other means, including photocopying–without written permission of the publisher. Masters of Industrial Design The University of the Arts 212 South Broad Street, 5th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19102 First printing May 2011


Liberty Resources is the leader in accessible communication because we employ and serve a diverse range of ability levels. The Guide to Accessible Communication was established by Liberty Resources in collaboration with the Masters of Industrial Design program at The University of the Arts. It shares Liberty Resources’ standards and guidelines providing examples and references of how we make communication accessible for all.


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Contents Using this Guide

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Standards 11 Font 12 Email Policy 16 Guidelines 19 Presentations 20 Meetings 22 Documents 24 Email 26 Index of Needs

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Using this Guide This guide is intended for use by anyone who wants to learn about accessible communication. Liberty Resources employs and serves a diverse range of ability levels. This guide provides examples and references of how they make communication accessible for all. This guide is separated into two major sections: • Standards The standards that Liberty Resources uses to ensure minimum accessibility needs are met. • Guidelines The methods that employees at Liberty Resources use in order to make communication more accessible.

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The major sections are divided into separate pages for the specific technique or method. As seen in the graphic below, each method page is comprised of a title, the needs addressed, sections that explain information about the method and how to implement the method.

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Needs Addressed Each method features icons that specify the needs addressed for users with specific ability levels. This guide focuses on five different need categories: auditory, cognitive, general, physical, and visual. These categories are based on the common disiability categories defined by the American Disability Act. The icons and a brief explaination of these needs are included on this and the following page.

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Auditory The auditory icon address those with auditory needs. These can be full or partial decrease in the ability to detect or understand sounds ranging from mild hearing loss to total deafness.

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Cognitive The cognitive icon addresses those with cognitive impairments. The impairments affect one’s ability to reason, understand, and learn.

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General

The general icon addresses general needs. These are methods that can benefit all users regardless of ability level or need.

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Physical

The physical icon addresses those with mobility impairments. These impairments refer to those unable to move about without the aid of crutches, a wheelchair or any other form of support, or that limits the person’s functional ability to ambulate, climb, descend, or perform any related function.

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Visual

The visual icon addresses those with visual impairments. These impairments refers one’s ability to see, they include the seeing images clearly, loss of visual field, inability to detect small changes in brightness, color blindness, sensitivity to light, and total loss of visual ability. 9


Standards Liberty Resources has standards that all employees use. These standards ensure that the minimum accessibility needs are met. Font Format

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Email Policy

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Font Format The most accessible font is 14-point black, regular, Verdana on a white field. This formatting is required for all printed and digital documents. t

Font Choice

Sans-serif fonts, such as Verdana, are fonts that do not have glyphs attached to them. 14-point is the minimum size for large print while the sans-serif font and color combination is legible for all ability levels. Below are two sentences, one using a sans-serif font the other uses a serif font. Sans-serif:

The quick brown fox jumps.

Serif:

The quick brown fox jumps.

The serif font allows the eye to travel from character to character but each character is not easily distinguishable due to the the spacing and characters width. 12


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Changing Font Format 1. Go to the main menu. 2. From the “Tools” or “Format” drop down menu, select the “Font” option. 3. In the dialogue box choose the following settings. Font: Verdana

Font style: Regular

Font size: 14 points

Font color: Black

4. Select the “Okay” button. The image below shows a font dialogue box with the font’s formatting set correctly.

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Default Font in Outlook In Outlook, it is possible to set the default font for composing messages. The following steps will set the default font to black, 14-point, regular Verdana. 1. Go to the main menu. 2. Select “Tools” from the menu. 3. Select “Options”. 4. Once the dialogue box is open, select the “Mail Format”. As shown in the image on the opposite page, this option is the third tab from the left. 5. In the “Stationary and Fonts” section select the “Stationary and Fonts” button. 6. In the “Font” dialogue box choose the following options: Font: Verdana

Font style: Regular

Font size: 14 points

Font color: Black

7. Select the “Okay” button. The font used for composing messages will now be default to black, 14-point, regular Verdana. 14


t The image below shows the steps 3 and 4 in the “Options” dialogue box.

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Email Policy Email should only contain correctly formatted text. t

Accessible Email The following techniques ensure accessibility for emails: • Always use regular, black, 14-point Verdana font on a white background. All emails from outside sources must also be converted to this format. • Do not include images or other media in email. • If including an attachment, always attach a plain text file in addition to the original document (for more information on plain text documents, go to page 24).

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Plain Text Email

Plain text emails include only text. They do no use any of the following elements: • stationary • backgrounds • graphics • audio • video The font may be formatted but only in regular, black, 14-point Verdana. This enables screen readers and other assistive technology to accurately interpret the email.

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Presentations 20 Meetings 22 Documents 24 Email 26

Guidelines Employees at Liberty use many methods to create accessible communication. Guidelines highlight the methods they use.

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Presentations Graphics are meant to aide an audience in understanding complex information. With specific needs, graphics are only as helpful as the explanation given with them. t

Explaining Graphics To meet accessibility needs, explain everything shown, from graphics to text. Doing this will help you convey your message to the audience. In-depth explanation of what is being shown, clarifies the presenter’s intent. The graphic on the opposite page shows how this can be done.

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In the graphic shown below, characters are in a conference room, sitting around a table, listening to a presentation. The projection being described by the presenter is a line graph. A speech bubble is showing what is being stated: “This graphic shows a chart of our company’s progress over the past 30 years. As you can see there has been a steady increase since 1995 with a significant increase over the past 5 years from $30 to $60 million.”

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Meetings Meetings are the most effective way to gain instant response from coworkers. A well-structured meeting can produce results that inform employees and promote growth within the company. t

Efficient Meetings • Have a Clear Goal. This will help keep the meeting on topic. It also provides a way to measure the process of the meeting. • Create an Agenda. Identify what needs to be addressed in the meeting. Place time restraints on these tasks to keep the meeting on schedule. • Summarize. At the end of the meeting, review the agenda, record what has been completed, and reiterate the major conclusions.

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Effective Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a great way to generate ideas and solutions. An effective brainstorming process ensures that everyone has an opportunity to share their thoughts. To effectively brainstorm, a clear common goal should be set. Decide what topic, problem, or issue you want to address at the beginning of the session. 1. Generate. Create as many as ideas as possible. Write and verbalize each idea so everyone knows what is happening. 2. Organize. Look for common topics and group the related ideas together. Write the ideas on post-it notes, using one note per idea. Verbalize each note and its placement. 3. Select. Discuss which ideas best address the original brainstorming topic and provide a solution. 23


Documents Plain text files include text only. The simplicity of the file allows screen readers and other assistive technologies to comprehend the information easily. t

Shared Files Always include a plain text file with other document types. Not all documents can be translated by assistive technology. Plain text files should be saved in addition to other file types. This will ensure that all methods of assistive technology can read and access the file.

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t Creating Plain Text Documents There are two ways to create a plain text document. One way is using Microsoft Word’s “Save As” function, the other is in a text editor. Below are the directions on how to do both: Using Microsoft Word 1. Compose the file as usual. 2. When saving, choose the “Save As…” option. 3. Select the “Format” option. 4. Select “Plain Text (.txt)”. 5. Save the document. 6. The document will save as a plain text document and have a file extension of “.txt”. Using A Text Editor Use a text editor, such as Notepad or WordPad. They are usually located in the accessories section of program files. 1. Open the program. 2. There are two options to create this file: • Compose the text in the program. • Copy and paste text from another word proccessing program. 3. After the document is finished, save the file. It will automatically save as a plain text file. 25


Email Email is regarded as one of the most used but congested sources of communication. These simple tips can help make the process easier and more accessible. Email Subject These points will make sure you email is addressed in the most efficient way: • Always include a clear and concise subject summarizing what the email is about. If the email is time sensitive, add the necessary response time and what it is in regard to in the subject line. • Do not change the subject of an email in the middle of a thread; it should remain the same for the duration of the email conversation until finished. 26


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Email as a Reminder

Email can be used as a reminder by delaying delivery. When composing a new message: 1. Select “Message Options” from the main menu. 2. Navigate to “Delivery Options” section 3. Check the box next to the option “Do not deliver before:” 4. Customize the date and time for when you want the message to be delivered. 5. Continue to send the email as usual. The message will be delivered at the time specified. The message below shows steps 2 through 4 in the “Message Option” box.

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Index Auditory Email Policy 16-17 Presentations 20-21 Meetings 22-23

Cognitive Font Format 12-15 Email Policy 16-17 Presentations 20-21 Meetings 22-23 Documents 24-25

General Font Format 12-15 Email Policy 16-17 Presentations 20-21 Meetings 22-23 Documents 24-25 Email 26-27

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Physical Presentations 20-21 Meetings 22-23

Visual Font Format 12-15 Email Policy 16-17 Presentations 20-21 Meetings 22-23 Documents 24-25

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Liberty Resources is the leader in accessible communication because we employ and serve a diverse range of ability levels. The Guide to Accessible Communication was established by Liberty Resources in collaboration with the Masters of Industrial Design program at The University of the Arts. It shares Liberty Resources’ standards and guidelines providing examples and references of how we make communication accessible for all.


Guide to Accessible Communication