Guidance for Inclusive Marketing
This resource is based on our workshop of the same name, and should be treated as a starting point for making your club, group, or organisation's marketing more inclusive of disabled people. It is intended to help you think about what could improve an experience for a disabled person, rather than as an exhaustive checklist.
Why make communications accessible?
These statistics represent people who may benefit from a more accessible route to physical activity (including sport):
23% of the working age population (Age 16 - 64) in Wales consider themselves to have an impairment. That's 713,000 people.
Source: Stats Wales: Summary of economic activity in Wales by year and disabled status.
1 in 12 (8%) men, and 1 in 200 (0.5%) women in the UK have a colour vison deficiency (Colour Blind). This represents approximately 133,000 people in Wales.
1 in 8 (12%) of the Welsh population have not reached Level 1 of basic literacy skills. This is roughly 380,000 people.
Source: Institute of Welsh Affairs 2015
63% of Disabled Adults take part in sport less than once a week.
Source: Active Wales Survey 2018
How to reach your audience
- Explicitly reference any inclusive opportunities
- Use a range of communication channels – Social Media, Newspapers, Radio, disability organisations and charities
- Clearly state how an individual can request alternative formats of resources (Contact disability organisations for support if you are unsure about formats)
- The more inclusive the original marketing resource is, the less likely it is for someone to require an alternative version
Solutions are often small, and incur low or no cost at all. Many just require a slightly different way of thinking. Multiple solutions developed together often have the biggest impact in terms of accessibility.
Use of fonts, text layouts and text sizes and their effect on accessibility.
Choosing an appropriate typeface
San Serif fonts like Arial, Helvetica, or Verdana offer greater legibility than serif fonts like Times New Roman, Garamond or Georgia.
Using all UPPERCASE LETTERS, and therefore fonts that do not include lowercase letterforms such as Trajan or Bebas Neue should be avoided wherever possible. This is particularly important for text set over multiple lines.
Aside from acronyms, informational text (that is, text that is not purely decorative), should not be set in UPPERCASE if you want your text to be accessible. UPPERCASE has its stylistic benefits; it’s punchy, powerful, and strong. If you need to leverage these characteristics to help convey a message, try to use UPPERCASE only:
- for text that can fit on one line (ideally five words or fewer) and;
- in a digital setting (web, app, or equivalent) where a user is able to convert UPPERCASE to Sentence Case if they need to for accessibility reasons.
Tracking and Leading
Tracking (the spacing between letters) and leading (the spacing between lines of text) should be adjusted with careful consideration. Tracking and leading that is too tight or too open drastically decreases legibility.
Leading that is too tight can cause crashing (when two lines of text touch or overlap each other), and leading that is too open makes lines feel disconnected, disrupting reading flow.
When text is set over two lines or more, for best accessibility you should:
- Left-align text; this makes it easiest for a reader to find the start of a new line. Right- or centrally-aligning text makes this much more difficult. Justified alignment can cause word spacing to become irregular, also affecting legibility.
- Set text in paragraphs that are 52-78 characters wide. Lines that are too short or to long are less comfortable to read.
12pt should be a minimum for paragraphs of text. 14pt is better, so is ideal when possible, and should be treated as minimum for Easy Read documents.
Create a clear hierarchy by generously enlarging headings and subheadings.
Stylistic choices for emphasis
Using bold text, or adjusting scale is preferred over using italics or underlined text when you want to create emphasis.
Bold and enlarged text maintain or increase legibility, where italics and underlining can impair it.
Colour and Contrast
Aim for 4.5:1 as a minimum.
A contrast ratio of 4.5:1 meets Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to Level AA standard.
This is guidance for colour contrast in web and digital applications but is a great rule-of-thumb for printed materials too. This, broadly speaking, means text is either 4.5x darker or lighter than the background it’s placed on.
Where possible, provide an even higher-contrast option. 7:1 meets Level AAA standard.
Easy Read formatting is designed to assist people with learning impairments more than people with visual impairments.
Text is high contrast, in easily legible fonts, and is partnered with photos or illustrations that help explain the content.
Guidance, training and translation is available from Learning Disability Wales.
Terminology and Tone
Making content more accessible isn't just about its presentation; it can be about the content itself.
Use language that reinforces equality
"In our sports club, disabled and non-disabled people are actively encouraged to join in."
"In our sports club, able-bodied people love seeing the disabled join in around their club."
In the good example, both disabled and non-disabled participants are treated with parity. The message is positive, and neither of the demographics referred to is given preference.
In our bad example, the intention of the sentence is positive; to say that disabled people are actively included in the club, but has been conveyed in a demeaning manner. It positions the disabled participants in question as being less-than, or even a novelty. It should also be noted that "non-disabled" is preferred over "able-bodied", but we'll expand on that imminently.
Use of appropriate language
Certain language can be offensive when speaking to or referring disabled people.
Considered preferred language:
Person with a disability
Athlete with a disability
Mental health problem
Hard of Hearing
Autistic person / Person on the autism spectrum
Words and terms to avoid:
Deaf and dumb
Retard / Retarded
Table: Tips to replace negative, offensive or inaccurate terminology
| Deaf and Dumb
| Disabled person
Speech and language difficulty
| Disabled person
Person with a learning disability
| Disabled person
or if appropriate:
|Wheelchair bound|| Wheelchair user
"Bound" adds unnecessary emotional context, and implies a lower quality of life.
It is unfair to consider disabled people to not be "normal"
There are plenty of disabled people who are "able-bodied".
Referring to a person, it is incredibly offensive and derogatory.
When referring in a medical context to muscular spasticity, its use may be appropriate. If you're at all unsure if you're using it correctly, just don't use it.
If there is a need to identify or discuss an individual’s disability, then avoid negative phrasing.
“Bill has Downs Syndrome”
|If not appropriate, use:
|If not appropriate, use:
Hard of hearing
Use of Imagery
If you are trying to portray sport, make sure the photo is active i.e. shows sport being played.
Where a specific level of ability is required for a session, make sure this is reflected in the images.
This image is clearly representative of elite-level parasport, and is not appropriate to illustrate an entry-level opportunity.
When trying to demonstrate a session is inclusive make sure the image demonstrates inclusion, not separateness.
To allow images to be accessible to blind and visually impaired people, it is vital that images placed online are given an Alt tag. This alt tag is read by a screen reader, and if used correctly, allows a visually impaired user to understand the content.
An ideal alt tag is a balance between being concise but descript. What is the purpose of the image? What point is it helping to convey or reinforce?
The images in the previous section were given the following alt tags to help describe their content to a screen reader user:
"Two male-presenting disabled people are playing table tennis. Both are playing in standing positions assisted by crutches. The player nearest to the camera is a single-leg amputee. They have played the ball, and the other player is preparing to return it."
"Professional para athletes line up to start a wheelchair race. They are wearing helmets, race numbers, and national-level kit (GB, Czech, France and Swiss kits are clearly visible). The race is outdoor, on a road, and there is a crowd of supporters."
"Four male-presenting young people playing boccia in a sports hall. One is a powerchair user, the other three are sitting in collapsible chairs. They are playing a 2v2 format, and the blue team are smiling."
Microsoft Office Accessibility Tools
In all Office applications under the review menu there is a check accessibility function, this will give feedback and suggested improvements on language, colour contrast, use of images and other key accessibility issues.
If you tick the box that says “Keep Accessibility Checker running while I work” this will keep checking and flag up any issues as you work.
Subtitles to support video content
Some software include subtitling / captioning as an automatic function (Teams, YouTube etc). Their functionality is varied, and quality can differ, but can support in some cases.
Social Media Considerations
- Consider using images, illustrations, video, audio, and symbols to help clarify meaning
- Don’t overuse Hashtags (max of 3), make sure each hashtag starts with a capital so it will be recognised by a screen reader
- Use captions and subtitles for videos - this opens the content up to everyone and not just those with hearing impairments
- Only use a GIF if it adds value to the content; research has found that people with some cognitive or visual impairments find GIFs difficult to engage with and may distract users from the message
- Capitalize the first letter of each word in a hashtag; notice how much more easily you can read #DSWSocialMedia versus #dswsocialmedia.
- Avoid using acronyms in your posts where possible.
- If you have a hyperlink in your tweet, indicate what type of resource it leads to by adding [PIC], [VIDEO] or [AUDIO].
Use a URL shortener (Tiny URL or another) to minimize the number of characters in the hyperlink.
Place mentions and hashtags at the end of your tweets.
Use ALT text to support images.
- Add a caption file, or use YouTube’s captioning services for Facebook videos
There are two options available:
- 1. Click Edit after uploading a video and add a SubRip Subtitle (SRT) file, which is a video captioning file format. or
- Upload your video to YouTube first and add captions there.
Use ALT text to support images. Facebook adds machine-generated alt text automatically. This feature gives general information: whether there are cars, trees, water, or people in it. Although this feature is useful, it doesn’t provide as much context as human-generated alt text.
To change the alt text of a photo after you've posted it:
Click the photo to open it.
Click the three dots in the top right and select Change Alt Text.
Click Override generated alt text or change the alt text in the text box. You can also click Clear to change your edited alt text back to the automatically generated text.
Avoid using acronyms in your posts
Like Facebook’s Accessibility Page for updates on new accessibility features
Accessibility for people who are deaf or hard of hearing:
British Sign Language
Accessibility for people with a learning disability:
Digital Accessibility Centre