Get into GAAD

New Thinking 17 May 2017 Rupert Burton

For the last two years, we've run internal activities to promote Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD).

The purpose is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital accessibility. The focus is often on those with disabilities.

But accessibility is not only about those with physical needs, it can affect anyone. For example, think of the last time you used your mobile phone on a bright sunny day. Did you struggle to see the screen due to poor contrast?

In previous years, we've looked at using a computer without a mouse and browser extensions.

This year, we wanted to do something not targeted at the 24% of New Zealanders with a disability. Approximately 40% of New Zealanders have 'low levels of literacy'. They typically struggle with scanning text and may skip complex content.

This is something  we can all do something about. Every time you write a communication, be it an email or a report, you can make an effort to make it easier to understand.

Some ways to do this are:

  • Break your text up into smaller blocks

  • Use styles like headings and bullet points

  • Use 'white space' to reduce the 'visual noise'

  • Avoid the use of buzzwords, tech-speak and acronyms

You can also use a tool to like the Hemingway Editor to help you identify potential problems. Here’s what my original draft looked like for this blog post:

You might believe that all your work colleagues have good English language skills. But making your writing easier to understand is not only for the benefit of those with low literacy. Studies show that everyone benefits from making writing easier to understand.

Today I'll be asking my colleagues to think about their communication and have a go at using the tool. Let’s improve for all our sakes.

If you need help with accessibility testing, please get in touch with our user research team.