Government Communications Service
3 ways to make communications more accessible
Blog posted by: Libby Daniels, Senior Campaigns and Communications Manager in the Equality Hub, 4 May 2023.
This week is Deaf Awareness Week. 11 million people in the UK are Deaf or hard of hearing, and as communicators we have a responsibility to consider all people in our audience and think about how to ensure our communications are accessible to all.
This all sounds good, but the elephant in the room is how? How can we ensure our communications are accessible for all, especially in a fast-paced communications environment?
- It’s not one size fits all: The first thing to recognise is the variety of experience in any group. Not everyone who is Deaf or hard of hearing is a British Sign Language (BSL) user. And not everyone who is a BSL user will benefit from closed captions. Communicators should consider including BSL interpretation and closed captions to ensure it is accessible to those that are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Consider our reporting obligations: In April 2022 the the British Sign Language (BSL) Act received Royal Assent and became law. The Act requires the government to report how relevant ministerial departments are using BSL in communications with the public on policy and changes to the law. It will help ensure all public services and information are accessible to Deaf people who use BSL. This means that government departments have a legal responsibility to report instances of BSL translation. Many government departments have made progress in increasing BSL translations across their communications, policy documents and analyst documents. However, there is still more to do to ensure that government departments and organisations improve the experience of Deaf people who are interacting with government documents and communications; and that when each department reports what it is doing, the numbers are strong.
- Think holistically about accessibility: When planning communications it is good practice to think methodically about your audience and how to ensure your communications are accessible, from messaging to channel strategy to design. The Inclusive communications assessment is a useful tool to ensure you’ve considered all your audiences as you plan a campaign, and then there is guidance to support execution on the Knowledge Hub, including five principles to make your campaigns more inclusive
Deaf Awareness Week provides us with a good opportunity to pause and consider how to ensure accessible communications for Deaf and hard of hearing people, but also gives us an opportunity to think about how we approach our communications strategies to ensure they are best serving our whole audience.
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