This post is the second of a series entitled “Ten points to accessible Information”.
Knowledge about your audience is communications 101 so focusing on the intended audience for information may seem like stating the obvious. Yet web sites in particular often seem to be more “about us” than about the user’s experience.
Who is this information for? How will they use it? One size no longer fits all. Identifying different audiences may seem relatively straightforward, but there are some audiences who may not routinely spring to mind. Disabled people, older people, people who have difficulty with reading and people who have English as a second language may have particular information and communication needs.
To help you decide you need to ask: Is your audience large and general or small and specialist? Try to avoid making assumptions about who will be interested in your information. Disabled people may be present in all sections of the population. Accessible information is therefore best thought of as business as usual to reach a general audience.
As a rough guide, some examples of the kinds of information intended for the general public which should be accessible are; weather or travel information, information about health, disaster preparedness, event booking services, supermarket specials, jobs, road safety and community campaigns such as quitting smoking or family violence programmes. In short, pretty much the same information as everyone else.
Disabled people may also be within a particular audience, such as young people, who will want to know about the same topics young people generally are interested in, such as sexual health, forming healthy relationships, fashion and gossip, sport, or the latest music gigs.
Where information may have a significant impact on disabled people or on a particular group of disabled people, extra attention should be paid to accessibility. A variety of formats may be necessary to reach the whole disability community, or particular formats for a particular group.