Services for Business

Accessible signage and buildings

Creating accessible spaces

To create a brilliant customer experience, your company’s physical spaces can be welcoming and easily accessed by people who are blind or have low vision.  That means creating accessible signage and buildings. Think about how easy your entrance is to find and whether your reception area is uncluttered.   If you have a shop, could someone find where to pay for their goods easily?  Do your lifts have accessible signage so that everyone can use them?

Accessible environments and good design benefit everyone in the community.  It is all about buildings, parks, and every public space being safe and easy to move around. Well-designed spaces help people who are blind or have low vision be independent and make their way through the world.

Accessible buildings and public spaces.

The Blind & Low Vision NZ is expert at advising private companies, councils and government departments on creating accessible buildings and spaces.  Our experience includes:

  • advising councils on shared spaces, pedestrian crossings and footpaths.
  • working with transport agencies on creating accessible trains.
  • advising corporates on designing accessible buildings.

Our Environmental Awareness Team offers one on one consultation and advice. Whether it is for a space that currently exists, or one yet to be created, we can help.

To find out more about accessible environments, get in touch with the Blind & Low Vision NZ’s Environmental Awareness team on 0800 24 33 33 or by email on eaa@blindlowvision.org.nz.

Accessible Signage.

Accessible signage is a key to ensuring your customers can find their way to and around your space.

Signage that’s truly accessible can be read and understood by every customer, whether they read by sight or touch.  Think about signage for your payment counters, lifts, floor directories, emergency telephones, room numbers, and rest room facilities – can they be easily found and accessed by every person who comes through your doors?

The Blind & Low Vision NZ has plenty of advice for creating signs that are accessible.  You can download our guidelines below.  These are best practice to include those who are blind or have low vision and expand on the requirements of NZ Standard 4121:2001 (opens a PDF in a new window).

Accessible Signage Guidelines 5th edition (.doc)
Accessible Signage Guidelines 5th edition (.pdf)

Useful signage tips

Tactile print: Accessible signs should include embossed high contrast print letters as well as braille so more people can read your signs by touch.  Please don’t use engraved print – it’s really hard to read by touch.

Clear and Concise:  Accessible signs should use easy to read fonts, good contrast between letter colour and it’s background, and letters big enough to be read from the appropriate distance.  The letters should not all be capitalised.

Durability: Make your accessible signs out of durable matt materials like plastic, aluminium and stainless steel. Signs made from braille label stickers and laminated cardboard don’t last the distance.

Placement: signs should be at 1200 mm to 1600 mm from the floor to the bottom of the sign.

Signage in lifts: your lifts should have accessible signage for all buttons in and outside of the lift as well as floor indicators.  The signage should be to the left of the buttons – it’s often too hard to read when it sits directly on them.   We recommend braille signage even in talking lifts so deafblind people can also have access to the information.  Talking lifts are important too – if other passengers are stopping at floors, the person who’s blind or has low vision needs to hear when the lift stops on their floor.

Sourcing signage: several local companies produce accessible signage.  We have found the cost of producing accessible signage locally cheaper  than it used to be. You can import signage but it tends to be more expensive, can have different braille codes and sizes, and might not comply with Blind & Low Vision NZ guidelines. If you do import braille signs, you should know that braille signage from the USA does not comply. Australian and UK signs may be safer choices.

Braille signage production: although the Blind & Low Vision NZ doesn’t produce signage, we can supply an image of the correctly-sized braille
as a PDF.

For a quote, call 0800 24 33 33 or email signage@blindlowvision.org.nz

We are also happy to look at samples to help you get your signs right.

Taxi signage: As of 2017, the New Zealand Transport Agency no longer requires taxis to display braille signage. However, following advocacy and consultation with theBlind & Low Vision NZ, The Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand (Blind Citizens NZ,) and the Braille Authority of New Zealand Aotearoa Trust )BANZAT), individual taxi organisations have agreed to continue to maintain or install braille signage in their taxis. This is highly recommended as it aligns with Outcome 5 of the New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016-2026, and increases the safety, independence, confidence and dignity of braille readers who use taxis

Accessible documents and websites

Making your communications accessible

People who are blind or have low vision want to buy products, enjoy services and be part of society – just like every other Kiwi.   You can reach them by creating documents and websites, signage and buildings that are accessible.

Accessible means that someone who’s blind or has low vision can get your information in a way they can process it.  If they’re on your website, they can read about your products and services using assistive technology. If your brochures are available by email as accessible PDFs, they can also use that computer programme to read them. If your menu is available in braille, a blind diner will be able to choose their dish of the day.

Accessible websites

Not only is an accessible website important for your audience who are blind or have low vision – it’s important for you.  Google likes accessible websites – being accessible is great for your ranking.

People with sight loss use all sorts of technologies to read a website.  Some people use computer programmes and others will use magnifiers.   There are people who increase the size of the text or change the colours on the screen to read online.  Whatever they do, you can make it easy for them to get the information they need.

The Blind & Low Vision NZ recommends websites exceed the WC3’s WCAG 2.0 Guidelines

If you want expert advice, the Blind & Low Vision NZ team is here to help. Our free advice line provides quick tips and answers.   We can also quote on a full service whether you want your current site evaluated or need to develop a new site.   Give our team a call on 0800 932 847 or email access@blindlowvision.org.nz

Tips and Tools

There are lots of simple tricks you can use to create an accessible site.  The most common ones are:

  • Images and animations: use the alt attribute to describe the function of each visual.
  • Image maps: use the client-side map and text for hotspots.
  • Multi-media: provide captioning and transcripts of audio, and descriptions of video.
  • Hypertext links: use text that makes sense when read out of context.  For example, avoid ‘click here’.
  • Page organisation: use headings, lists, and consistent structure.  Use CSS for layout and style where possible.
  • Graphs and charts: summarise or use the longdesc attribute.
  • Scripts, applets and plug-ins: provide alternative content in case active features are inaccessible or unsupported.
  • Frames: use the noframes element and meaningful titles.
  • Tables: make line-by-line reading sensible.  Summarize.
  • Check your work: validate.  Use tools, checklists and guidelines at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG

(courtesy of www.w3.org)

For instant online help, there are lots of tools available.  The Blind & Low Vision NZ’s favourites are:

Accessible documents.

By creating accessible documents, your information will be available to a wider audience.  People who are blind or have low vision need documents like company brochures, appliance manuals, council information and bank statements as much as anyone else.

A person who’s blind or has low vision uses all sorts of adaptive technologies to read printed documents.  These technologies include specialist software, computer programmes and magnifiers. They might also convert a document into a format best for them – like braille or audio. An accessible document could also be in MS Word, a txt file, html, large print or non-scanned PDFs.

The Blind & Low Vision NZ’s easy tips will help you make your documents accessible for both people who are blind and those with low vision.  For example a good, clear structure helps people get around the document. It also means it can be converted more easily into braille, large print, synthetic audio or other formats.

The Blind & Low Vision NZ’s quick and easy guide to creating accessible documents (MS Word Formatting Quick Guide) is:

Fonts

  • Minimum font size 12 point.
  • Consider the colour of the font and the colour of the background. Does the font provide good contrast? Black font on white paper always works well and so does yellow on dark blue.
  • All text should be left aligned.
  • Avoid large amounts of italics, BLOCK CAPITALS and underlining. Use bold for emphasis.

Images

  • Add alternative text (a narrative description) to images.
  • Avoid images that are text (eg scanned PDF files).
  • Use text equivalents for charts, maps and diagrams.

Tables

  • Tables should be used for tabular data.
  • Do not use tables for layout.
  • Avoid merging table cells. One piece of information per table cell.
  • Text Boxes in Microsoft Word are not accessible.

Links

  • Links should be descriptive to explain what is being linked to
  • For example use ‘Human Rights Commission Website’ not ‘click here’.

Headings

  • Use Styles to apply and format document headings.
  • Use the bullets and numbering function.

For advice on making your documents accessible, get in touch on access@blindlowvision.org.nz

Accessible documents by Tom Smith, Blind & Low Vision NZ is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand Licence.