I’ve had a few people ask for my help with putting Braille on posters over the past couple years. Putting Braille on a poster is often not the best way to communicate information to blind people. So I wanted to talk about some good strategies for conveying the content of posters to blind people.
I am always very happy when someone asks me about Braille for a poster or display or anything for that matter, because it means they want to be inclusive. That said, despite being a very passionate Braille advocate, this is one of the few occasions where I would generally advise that it’s not necessarily a good idea to have Braille added to posters.
This is because, blind people don’t typically go around feeling the walls. We’re not going to know that your poster is there. So that lovely Braille you’ve very kindly included for us, is not going to see much use, even if there are loads of blind people around. If you’re advertising something on that poster, then you are right, it would be great to make sure that blind people have that knowledge. However, I would suggest alternative ways of communicating that to blind people, which we’ll come to soon.
First of all though, I’m going to discuss some instances in which you definitely should have Braille on walls or doors, regardless of whether there are any blind people who use the place where the poster or display or sign is going, at the time of production.
Signs on doors should have Braille on them, especially if they’re for toilets. This means that if you ever have a blind person visit, they will be able to know if they’ve reached the right door if they’re navigating around on their own. While looking for a door, is one of the occasions when blind people will frequently feel walls.
Even if you don’t think that there are any blind people at present, you never know when that will change, having Braille in place can be extremely helpful for those of us that read Braille.
Similarly, make sure you’ve always got large print. It needs to be on a background that provides a good contrast, in a font that’s nice and clear. Arial is always a good choice.
Fire safety instructions. These should be in obvious places such as by the door and should be Brailled out in full in case a blind person ever finds themself alone needing to access them. Remember, even if you don’t have any blind people at the time of production, doesn’t mean there won’t be any. As with my last point about door signs, large print in a clear font is also needed for visually impaired people. Make sure there’s good contrast between the font and the background. Use a clear font, again I recommend Arial.
Notice boards. If you’ve got a notice board in a set place that has useful announcements on and you have blind employees, customers, students, visitors and so on, if you can put Braille on, do so. If blind people know there’s a notice board in a set place, then yes we will feel the wall to find it. If this is genuinely not possible, you should have in place some of the alternative communication strategies I’m going to talk about a bit later.
Displays raising awareness of visual impairment or blindness or Braille. It’s very good for sighted people to be made aware of Braille and to see it. Braille seems to be becoming less widely used, which is very frustrating and unfortunate. But that is a whole other topic of discussion.
Now, let’s talk about alternative ways of communicating the information you would convey in a poster to blind people. I will point out, that these methods will also be useful for everyone else, because people don’t always notice posters. Even if they do, chances are they won’t have time to stop and read them, especially if they’re busy.
Email news letters, news sections of your website and maybe social media, are good places for this information. If the announcements are only for staff and you have blind staff, maybe have a private area of the website or send out staff emails. I would recommend using all these channels or as many as possible to offer flexibility and choice.
Don’t automatically assume that people will sign up to your email news letter or follow you on social media. I’ve known some people assume that customers or clients should do this and I personally think it is very misguided. You are not necessarily going to follow on social media or sign up to the email news letter, for every organisation you use. This is especially the case if you use one product or service for an organisation that offers many,, or what you access from the organisation is not their primary offering.
Talk to people about it. If you’re offering a new service or have an upcoming event that’s new, make sure that you tell people. This will look different for different types of organisation.
For example, if you’re a school or college or university, make sure that staff are telling their students. If there are specific staff that deal with disabled people, make sure they’re making people aware. Make sure your staff are made aware in staff meetings. Similarly, if you’re a company, make staff aware in staff meetings.
I think if the blind people are your customers, they probably don’t want to be bombarded with an in depth news update every time they buy something from you or use your service. So, perhaps make them aware of where they can find out about the latest news.
That said, be careful how you do this and how this comes across. There can be nothing more annoying than going that o a shop to pick up a few things and the person at the counter trying to take your email address.
I hope you’ve found this information useful and that it will help you share information inclusively.