Making your CU accessible - sight problems
Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) reports that there are approximately 2 million people in the UK with sight problems. Not all of these people will be registered as blind or partially sighted, but all have un-correctable sight loss. Some people are born blind or partially sighted. For many others sight loss develops over a period of time.
Many blind people are resourceful and resilient as they have had to find ways of negotiating a world designed for sighted people. In some cases this will have given them a strong sense of self-confidence, although for others certain activities such as getting around by public transport remain daunting. There is no reason why someone with a visual impairment shouldn’t excel academically (our own Chair of Trustees is blind and has a PhD.)
- Try to find a venue where corridors, approaches and circulating areas are free from obstructions with no projecting signs or overhanging branches or plants.
- Tell a blind or partially sighted person who you are when you meet them and make it clear who you are addressing in a group. Introduce all others in the group and don’t leave without telling the blind person.
- Always offer help, but don’t be offended if it is declined.
- Provide all written material in alternative formats to ordinary print as needed. Emailing information allows the person to use it in their preferred format. Offer song words or information sheets in large or very large print. Worship for All (http://www.torchtrust.org/smartweb/foursight/accessibleworship) is a free service from Torch Trust – if you send them your document they will return it as a large or very large print PDF or as a .brf document ready for use with a braille embosser (of which your university admin department or local RNIB may have one you can use)
- Most visually impaired people can’t read a projector screen, so need large print versions.
- Before a meeting, ask speakers to say what appears on the screen and not to assume everyone can read it.
- All print for partially sighted people should be in a sans serif typeface. Normally 16 point type is adequate, although some people find up to 30 point necessary. If possible, ask what point size the person needs.
- Never use all capital letters on PowerPoint slides - it's much harder to read. Powerpoint should preferably be in no less than 30 font.
- Printing should be on contrasting colour paper (black on a pastel colour is best) and on matt (non-glossy) paper. This will also help people with dyslexia. Don't use pale coloured type on dark colours or print over photographs.
- Remove a chair at a convenient point to allow guide dogs to sit with their owners and to avoid people tripping over or treading on the guide dog.
- Provide a drinking bowl (a 2-litre ice-cream container is ideal) for guide dogs.
- For safety reasons, good lighting is essential for partially-sighted people. (Deaf people benefit too, as lip-reading is only possible in good lighting).
- Reserve some front seats for partially sighted people to maximise their ability to follow events.
- Assume nothing - always ask.
www.rnib.org.uk – for more information on all aspects of sight loss
www.sense.org.uk – for information on deafblindness
www.torchtrust.org – for Christian resources and support for blind and visually impaired people
This resource is part of our Accessible CU series, created especially for Christian Unions by Through The Roof, a Christian Disability charity. To read this article in full, and other articles on including disabled students, download the student version of Through the Roof's publication Be a Roofbreaker for just £3.