Ontario’s Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) says that accessible formats of information must be provided upon request. On campus, these requests might come from students, faculty, staff, volunteers or visitors. This tip sheet will help you or members of your department use clear print design standards in Word documents when creating printed materials in-house. This will let you convert them easily to alternative formats later upon request. Taking this step also allows your materials to be accessible to a wider audience, limiting the need for users to request alternative formats.
Use high-contrast colours for text and background. Good examples are black or dark blue text on a white or yellow background, or white or yellow text on a black or dark blue background.
Printed material is most readable in black and white. Restrict coloured text to things such as titles, headlines or highlighted material.
Bigger is better. Keep your text large, preferably between 12 and 18 points, depending on the font. (Point size varies among fonts.) People who are visually impaired might be able to read large print, but not very small text.
Leading is the space between lines of text and should be at least 25 to 30 per cent greater than the point size. This space lets readers move more easily to the next line of text. Too much leading, however, makes type harder to read. Heavier typefaces will require slightly more leading.
Avoid complicated or decorative fonts. Choose standard sans serif fonts with easily recognizable upper- and lower-case characters. Arial and Verdana are good choices.
Opt for fonts with medium heaviness and avoid light type with thin strokes. When emphasizing a word or passage, use a bold or heavy font. Italics or upper-case letters are not recommended.
Don’t crowd your text: keep a wide space between letters. The spacing default in your Microsoft Word software program should be an appropriate distance.
Use a matte or non-glossy finish to cut down on glare.
To reduce distractions, avoid using watermarks or complicated background designs.
Use distinctive colours, sizes and shapes on the covers of materials to make them easier to distinguish.
These guidelines were developed by the CNIB and have been modified slightly for the COU Accessibility Toolkit. CNIB is a nation-wide, community-based, registered charity committed to public education, research and the vision health of all Canadians. CNIB provides the services and support necessary to enjoy a good quality of life regardless of vision loss.