Top tips for inclusive writing

Effective communication is vital to ensuring inclusion can happen in your sport program, club or organisation.

While there are some really simple and effective things you can do to make your written communication more accessible it does take a bit of planning and effort.

In clubs and sports organisations information is delivered in writing all the time. Whether it’s a sign up form, newsletter or email it’s important to think about how easy it is for someone to read and understand the information you are providing.

Lets take a look at some of my top tips for more inclusive and accessible writing.

Use a ‘san serif’ font type

The text you choose needs to be easy to read. Both in print (such as news letters, forms and flyers) and digital formats (such as emails and website content).

'San serif' just means without the nifty little ticks and flicks at the end of the letters. For example, the font you’re reading right now is ‘san serif’, while Times New Roman is a serif font type.

It’s also good to avoid fancy fonts (even if you are super creative and funky, for many they are difficult to read).

Here’s some good examples you should stick too.

Arial

Verdana

Tahoma

Helvetica


use san serif

avoid fancy

avoid serif


Think about the text size

When it comes to text, size does matter. So here are some suggestions for different uses.

  • Size 11+ for online or PDF
  • Size 12+ for hard copy printed letters and documents
  • Size 16+ for flyers and brochures
  • Size 20+ for posters and signage


Think about font size


Think, less is more

Avoid excessive use of italics, underlines, bold and UPPER CASE.

If you use bold keep it for the headings and really important information only.

Also avoid condensing text because it is difficult to read for some people.


DON'T over do it!


Choose colours wisely

Usually it is best to stick to high contrast colour schemes and avoid busy patterns or backgrounds.

Stick to:

black on white

white on black

blue on yellow

Avoid:

red and green

light on light

dark on dark

Check out this website if you want ideas for accessible colour combinations.


Clarity over creativity


Make it easy

It’s important to remember that your membership or target market will include people with a range of reading skills whether its due to their age, education level, native language or impairment.

So try to stick to these rules for easy English and plain language:

  • Use clear concise and simple language
  • Use one idea per sentence
  • Keep sentences short
  • Avoid slang and jargon
  • Use full words and names.
  • For example, Road instead of Rd, is not instead of isn’t
  • Use number digits.
  • For example, 23 instead of twenty three
  • Limit use of punctuation
  • Support written information with relevant images, icons and graphics

If you need help reach out to your local disability services. It is likely they can connect you with someone with the right skills and experience.

For example, disability service provider SCOPE offers an Easy English and Plain Language service. Check it out here.


 Keep it simple


Provide translations

While we are on the topic of language consider translating your content to other languages. New immigrants may benefit from information in their native language. This will definitely open the door to new markets.

A great way to get your documents translated is to connect with a local multicultural or immigration organisation or support service they may be able to connect you with someone who can translate your documents and information for free. Otherwise you can hire a translator to do this for you.

If you do hire someone make sure they are accredited by a relevant authority. In Australia this is the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI).

You can find a translator on NAATIS’s website, or use their verification tool to check if your translator is accredited.


Make inclusion happen

让包容发生


A picture tells a thousand words

Images are very useful in supporting and explaining what is being written in words. But not only that it makes things look nice and far more interesting than just a bunch of boring text. This can be particularly helpful for people with learning and reading difficulties or for people with dyslexia for example.

So here are some tips on effective use of images.

  • Provide text descriptions
  • Avoid placing images behind text (unless it is high contrast)
  • Consider the space between images and text
Image of Michael Woods speaking on stage.

Michael Woods speaking about inclusive language.

Here is a good example of how to present images within written information that is most accessible.

The image to the left is just me speaking about inclusive language at a conference. But you can see there is white space between the text and image, there is a caption describing what is going on in the image and there is nothing over laying the image itself.

For more on using images, check out my Guide for using images to promote inclusion in sport.

Easy!


These are just a handful of tips. Share your strategies for accessible communication in the comments.

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