Every once in a while, I get a wake-up call that we often build communications and other materials around assuming a base set of abilities – ones that don’t always apply.
Flowing Data posted this morning, linking to waxy.org – a site I hadn’t come across before – and a blog on how nicely-designed charts can be impossible for people who are colourblind. In addition to showing the problem (see the image below), there’s a helpful guide about what to do to improve matters.
It’s easy to forget, however, that there’s a substantial portion of our audience that may have difficulties receiving material done in standard communications formats – I once turned up to run a workshop with stimulus material neatly typed up, to find that one participant had visual difficulties. Another time it was literacy. At some point, we will no doubt find ourselves running anecdote circles with people with hearing difficulties.
The first few times we come across them, shifting mindset to produce communications and materials for people outside of our standard skillset or culture can be difficult. Once committed to, however, it quickly becomes just part of the landscape without needing special extra thought.
But the startpoint is to know – or estimate – how many people in the organisation may be effected. And it’s better to estimate high rather than assume low numbers…