Rise up and protest against inaccessible information

Rise is the new print publication from Ministry of Social Development. It is also available on their web site. I don’t know what it is about as I can’t read it, and I suspect lots of other people won’t be able to either. I can say it is probably one of the ugliest publications I have ever seen, and I have seen a fair few. It’s probably a designer’s dream but it’s a reader’s nightmare. I think you would almost need to have 2020 vision to read it, or at the very least a good pair of reading specs. I tried it on a colleague who is within the range of so called normal sight and he struggled.

It is not entirely clear to me who the audience is. It is described as MSD’s flagship publication, and I would like to read one or two of the articles, but the headings in particular are an abomination. Some are large but in a strange distorted font. Others are tiny and grey on white. Body type is too small and again is grey. What IS it with grey?

The web isn’t much better. We tried the pdf and found some visual elements didn’t show and others flashed alarmingly. The possible cause was a version issue, The Rise document is in version seven of the Adobe Acrobat and the machine we viewed it on had version five of the reader.

We then tried the Word document. It was a bit more readable. However there was no contents page with handy hyperlinks, the images were very large and the lines of the body text too long and justified, which does not read well on the screen, and there are no page numbers. This is definitely not an equivalent document, not even to the original print one.

There are probably reasons for all of this relating to publication processes, but as the reader the message I get is that only some audiences are important. Others don’t matter.

It is really time that large organisations with dollars to spend on communications start to take their audiences seriously, and have proper planned and integrated processes to get their messages across. And readers shouldn’t put up with it any more.

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