Accessible School Communications: Four Tips to Try Today

The third Thursday in May is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the importance of accessible school communications. And this year’s observance is a special one, as it comes just weeks after the U.S. Department of Justice released a long-awaited regulation that could impact public schools.

Making your communications accessible to all audiences can take some practice. However, the following tips can help guide your school toward more accessible communication:

User-friendly interfaces

Our school websites, apps and other platforms should be user-friendly for all different types of users, regardless of age, ability or technology. That means they should work equally well whether someone is using a desktop computer or a mobile device, or a keyboard vs. a mouse.

Ask vendors and third-party partners how different users will be able to navigate the platform using different technologies. Accessible school communications are a team effort, requiring support from many different parties.

Easy-to-understand content

It’s not enough to just have a platform that’s user-friendly. To achieve accessible school communications, we have to make sure our content is easy to read as well. Clear, simple language, headings and bulleted lists, and simple titles for things like website menus, buttons and links will help your audience get the message easily.

Listen now: Emily Popek of Nichols Strategies talks about new accessibility requirements & laws with Ryan Foran of the School PR Podcast

Scannable text

Where possible, share information as scannable text. What does that mean? It means that you should be able to highlight the text with your cursor when viewing the message.

Scannable text has many benefits for your audience. First, it will adjust to fit the size of whatever screen or device someone is using. Second, it can be picked up by assistive software. This includes translation apps, as well as software that reads text aloud to the user. These tools can’t work on text that isn’t scannable.

What’s an example of text that isn’t scannable? One example might be a graphic with lots of text in it, such as a flyer or poster. Minimizing the amount of text that’s in a graphic can help support accessible school communications.

Audio and visual alternatives

Accessibility means thinking about different ways of receiving information. At the most basic level, this means that if someone can’t see something, they should be able to hear it, and vice versa.

When it comes to video, this means that videos and images should have captions as well as descriptions. These two types of accessible content ensure that your audience can see AND hear the important information being shared in a video or image.

The bottom line: Accessible school communications is good business

It is your school’s responsibility to ensure that your communications are accessible to all audiences. But it’s also just common sense. Ultimately, you want all your messages to be received and understood. Accessibility is one of the best tools you have to support that goal.

Want help ensuring that your communications are accessible to all audiences? Contact Nichols Strategies today.