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Making Information Accessible – Dyslexia Friendly Style Guide



For people with dyslexia, the ability to read and understand text can be affected by the way in which text has been written and produced.

If you are producing information to be read by others, it is important to remember that up to 10% of your readers may have dyslexia.

Dyslexia friendly text will have improved readability and better visual impact for all readers, but especially those with dyslexia.

The following are some simple recommendations to help ensure that your text is dyslexia friendly:

Font Style

  • Use a san serif font such as Arial, Comic Sans, Verdana or Sassoon.
  • Use a minimum of 12pt or 14pt font size.
  • Use lower case letters. Avoid unnecessary use of capitals. Using all capital letters can make it harder to read, and it can also appear that you are shouting at the reader.

Paper

  • Use a coloured paper, even cream or off white.  Some individuals will have specific colour preferences, e.g. yellow or blue.
  • Use matt paper to reduce glare.
  • Don’t use flimsy paper which may allow text from the other side to show through.  Good quality 80 or 90 gsm is effective.
  • Avoid light text on a dark background.

Presentation Style

  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short. Try to break text into short readable units.
  • Use wide margins and headings.
  • Use at least 1.5 line spaces between lines of text, if possible.
  • Use bold print to highlight.  Italics and underline should be avoided as they can blur text.
  • Highlight important text in a box or use colour.
  • Use bullet points and numbers rather than long passages of prose.
  • Keep text left justified with a ragged right edge.
  • Don’t use unnecessary hyphenation.

Writing Style

It is best to keep text as simple and concise as possible, to aid navigation and comprehension.

  • Keep sentences short and to the point (15-20 words per sentence).
  • It helps to imagine the reader is sitting opposite you and you are talking directly to them.
  • Give clear instructions, and avoid lengthy explanations.
  • Use short words and terms where possible – avoid unnecessary complex vocabulary.
  • Good advice on producing text in ‘Plain English’ can be found online: www.plainenglish.co.uk/free-guides.html.

Posters and Leaflets

  • Keep design simple.
  • Avoid background graphics which can make text harder to read.
  • Keep essential information grouped together, such as the time, date and place of an event.

Universal Accessibility

Everyone processes information in a different way.  While some people may prefer long wordy explanations, others may need alternative presentation styles.

  • Include useful pictures and graphics.
  • Flow charts can help to explain procedures.
  • Lists of “do’s and don’ts” can be more useful than long passages of text.
  • A glossary will help to explain abbreviations, acronyms and jargon.
  • Longer documents should have a contents guide at the beginning and an index at the end.
  • It’s important to provide documents in a timely manner.  Teachers and lecturers should make handouts available before the class begins.

Website Design

Good website design is also critical for individuals with dyslexia and other disabilities. Website accessibility should be checked regularly.  A website should be easy to navigate; a site map is very helpful. Use images where appropriate to break up text. Ensure that the website is designed so that it is compatible with text-reading software.  Provide users with options so that they can customise your website to suit their needs, e.g. background colour, font size, etc.

Alternative Formats

In tandem with making all text as dyslexia friendly as possible, organisations should also provide information in a variety of formats, to meet the diverse needs of all their clients, e.g. audio, video, digital, braille. It is very important that clients are made aware of the availability of these alternative formats.

 

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