Style guides are an extremely useful way to combat this, especially if they’ve been prepared with consideration of the diverse communications needs of your audiences.
We know that over 40% of the Australian population has a sensory/cognitive disability/limitation, is from a diverse culture and or has limited English literacy. Whist some of these people will have chronic and multiple issues or be recent migrants, the majority are the
everyday people all around us. They may wear strong reading glasses, have a non-anglo Christian cultural perspective, have long or short term cognitive concerns, need/wear hearing aids and or have low English comprehension and literacy abilities.
Occasionally our work specifically targets these groups, but most often we are trying to be available and accessible to a broad spectrum of the population. How many are we subtly alienating by ignoring their needs? How many could we easily turn into clients and supporters by perceptively meeting these, when our competitors do not?
The needs of this 40% are varied, and yes, it is impossible to satisfy everyone. However, there are a number of actions that can be taken and built into core communications practice that will make a
The use of a Style Guide is a key measure. This give us the framework for how we present ourselves to our audiences and
customers. Is our choice of design and style, suitable for those with moderate vision issues? Is our language understandable and welcoming? How do we respond to those unable to hear or hold a discussion with us? Are these options part of our everyday communications interactions? Do we have processes to help us
provide alternative and additional communications methods or translations on a need basis. How do we deal with such people face to face? Does our on-line and social media presence also reach these
This is where creating style guidelines that are inclusive, is invaluable. Whilst Style Guides range from a few pages through to massive corporate manuals, often only a few changes are needed to start to
bridge a significant part of your gap.
So as you finalise your 2013-2014 budgets consider how far a small practical investment could extend the potential of your organisation to reach, provide services and gain more customers.
PS Other options to plan for will be inclusive communications audits and training for inclusive communications.