In Australia, it’s estimated that as many as 1.3 million people have a print disability. People with a print disability can’t read print, either because of vision impairment, a physical, perceptual or intellectual disability, poor literacy or language problems.
It is so important that organisations put great effort into making sure their communications are carefully worded, well designed and appropriate for everyone.
It’s up to government agencies, business, and community groups to ensure that Australians with a print disability are not being discriminated against through non-provision of information in a suitable format.
Producing publications in alternative formats gives people with a print disability the opportunity to participate more fully in mainstream Australian life.
- Read our Print Guidelines
- Learn about Alternative / Accessible Information
- Find out about our Accessible Media Production Service
The following guidelines will help you prepare printed materials for consumers who are vision impaired.
A strong contrast between type and paper is essential. Use black type on white, yellow or very pale paper. Only use tints behind type if the tint is very pale.
Black ink is preferred. However, other dark print may be used, for example greens, blues, reds or browns, if the ink is dark and the background is very pale. Do not use yellows or pale colours on coloured backgrounds, for example grey on blue. Type should only be reversed if the type size is large and thick, for example white type on a black or dark coloured background.
The choice of choice of typeface can make a significant difference. Sans serif fonts like Arial or Helvetica are the most accessible. Wherever possible use a standard print size of 12 point. For large print text the recommended size is 18 point.
It can be appropriate to use different typefaces for some applications, like an Excel spreadsheet, posters or displays. Very thin, light, or bizarre typefaces make legibility difficult for people with vision impairment.
Lay information out simply and clearly:
- Leave space between paragraphs
- Don’t cram the page – use a second page when needed
- Have generous margins
- Use a large margin or a vertical rule (for large print) between columns
- Use bold for headings
- Do not underline
- Use italics sparingly
- Use hyphenation sparingly.
Alternative / Accessible Information
Large Print is useful for people who have some vision but cannot read standard size print, particularly for reference material, timetables, etc. Large print requires no special skills or equipment to access, and can benefit even people with slight vision impairments.
Text materials in digital format can be accessed by anyone whose computer has large screen text, voice or Braille output. Digital format is one of the easiest, cheapest and most effective ways to provide information to people who are blind or vision impaired.
Audio is suitable for nearly all people with a print disability. Audio material can be produced using a range of recording equipment. If you’re recording a publication intended for wide distribution, for best results material should be recorded on quality equipment, under studio conditions, and by organisations that are familiar with the particular requirements of recording print text in a useful and meaningful way for people with a print disability.
The proportion of people with a print disability who can read Braille is relatively small. For those who can read it, however, Braille is the ideal print-alternative, especially for material that will be referred to constantly (such as cookbooks or discussion papers) or which contain forms, diagrams, or other visually presented information. Braille is the most difficult alternative format to produce, and requires the use of specialised equipment and knowledge of the Braille Code.
Tactile graphics are used to convey visually presented information such as diagrams, or maps.
Accessible Media Production
Our accessible media production teams transcribe a range of items including computer files, printed books or existing recordings (including analogue tapes) into Braille and/or audio formats on request. Find out more about accessible media production.