Why is making your service accessible to customers who are blind or vision impaired so important?
1. It makes good business sense
Making your services and premises suitable for people with vision impairments makes it better for all your customers. Better colour contrast and lighting, attention to potential hazards, and awareness training for staff benefits everyone and improves the safety and usability of your service.
2. Reach more customers
Organisations increasingly understand the importance of reaching a larger customer base by making their service more accessible. It also complies with good corporate and social responsibility practice.
In Ireland today, there are more than 16,000 people who are blind or vision impaired known to NCBI and of this figure nearly 60% are over 65 years of age. It is projected that the number of people affected by blindness or vision impairment in Ireland will grow enormously over the next twenty years as the population ages, leading to a significant demand for the provision of accessible services to all. It is important to ensure that your service is extended to this growing customer base.
3. Improve your image
As corporate responsibility and social inclusion become more important, organisations now understand the public relations benefits of providing greater access to facilities and information for customers who are blind or vision impaired. Inclusive design is good practice because it increases usability for all and not only people with disabilities. Accessibility is not incompatible with functionality or aesthetics but instead enhances the experience for everyone.
4. It’s the law
The Equal Status Act, 2000 makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone on the basis of disability. If you are providing a service for the general public you must, by law, make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities.
How to make your service accessible
NCBI provides a range of services to organisations to enable them to make their services accessible to people who are blind or vision impaired, for small charge.
1. Arrange vision impairment awareness training
NCBI provides awareness training to organisations to encourage a greater understanding of the issues around vision loss and to promote the development of services that are accessible to all.
2. Make your website and other technologies accessible
People who are blind or vision impaired may not be able to access your service due to problems caused by inaccessible websites or poor-quality displays and touch screens. NCBI founded the Centre for Inclusive Technology (CFIT) in response to this problem. CFIT provides information, education and assistance in designing accessible websites and other information and communication technologies to make them usable to everyone. Find out more at www.cfit.ie .
3. Organise an accessibility audit
An access audit of your premises may highlight certain aspects that make it difficult for a person with sight loss to find their way around independently. These include poor signage, bad lighting, ineffective use of colour and lack of suitable markings on steps and stairs.
Low cost, simple adaptations can be made to make your premises more accessible and safer to more customers. These include:
- Marking glass doors and providing a handrail on staircases.
- Effective use of colour and tactile markings to highlight steps, edges and obstacles.
- Large, clear, well-positioned signs.
- Effective use of contrasting colours to highlight handrails, doorframes, door handles and edges of steps.
All of these simple adjustments will make your service safer for everyone to use. NCBI can provide you with further advice and assistance on the most effective way to make adjustments to your premises.
4. Make your information accessible
NCBI’s Media Centre converts printed information into formats accessible to people who are blind or vision impaired for a range of organisations.
The Media Centre’s Braille production team uses a range of technologies including a software programme called Duxbury for the conversion of documents to Braille.
The Media Centre can record a wide range of hard and softcopy documents onto audio files in audio-cassette, CD or WMA formats.
Documents which the Centre has converted into Braille and audio include:
- Annual company reports
- Customer care plans
- Banking guidelines
- Code of ethics, equality and human resource policy
- In-house communications and newsletters.
Clear Print advisory service
Clear Print is a design approach for written information which makes the print easier to read for everyone including people with low vision. NCBI’s Clear Print advisory service assists organisations to implement Clear Print design in their printed information.
Clear Print Mark
Our Clear Print Mark acknowledges organisations that use clear print design in their printed information. To achieve this Mark, organisations can submit documents, forms, posters and any other printed information to NCBI’s Media Centre, who will advise on its accessibility in terms of Clear Print principles and recommend changes which will make it easier to read.
Braille advisory and proofreading service
If you are a sign designer, an architect, a sculptor, an artist, a student, a researcher or someone who is just interested in finding out more about Braille, NCBI Media Centre is happy to advise you about the specifications of Braille.
Audio description is the name given to a narrative track that assists people who are blind or vision impaired when watching a television programme, a movie, or a visual arts performance. If you have produced a DVD or movie about your service, NCBI’s audio description service can assist in making it more accessible to people with sight loss.
By embracing the concept of accessibility, you will be making your service safer and easier to use for everyone.
For more information, please contact us at:
NCBI Head Office
LoCall 1850 33 43 53
Email: email@example.com