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Accessible PracticesBest PracticesPrint Materials
Symbol for Large Print.

Science centers and museums typically use print materials such as brochures and newsletters to convey information and to publicize programs, exhibitions, membership, employment and volunteer opportunities. Whether designed and produced in-house or by an outside firm, these rules of thumb apply: strive to make information legible and easy to understand, and supplement it with graphic symbols. For advice about making print materials legible for nearly everyone, see Links below.

To make print materials accessible to people who are blind or have low vision, four methods are widely used. These are sometimes referred to as alternate formats: audiocassettes, Braille, electronic documents, and large print (See below for details).

When considering which alternate formats to provide, be sure to check with the people who will be using these services to learn what they prefer. With these preferences in mind, consider your options. It may, for example, make sense to offer copies of your newsletter electronically and on audiocassette rather than in Braille.

You cannot charge more for an alternate format than for a standard print format of a document.

Advertise the availability of alternate formats as widely as possible. In addition to the ways you already publicize events and programs, seek advice on where people who are blind or have low vision in your community are most likely to get their information about local and regional cultural institutions. Also, be sure to use the disability access symbols. They alert people with disabilities, their families, and friends to your institution's services.

A format in which the written word is carefully read aloud and recorded.

A format in which printed words are translated into patterned 3-dimensional dots that can be read with one's fingertips.

Electronic Documents
A format in which a document is provided in a format that is compatible with virtually any computer software.

Large Print
A format in which the text is enlarged to 18 points or larger and various aspects of design are altered to make a document easier to read.


Links Related to Print Materials

ASTC Publications: Design Guidelines for Print Publications (PDF Version)
This document was developed by the Association for Science-Technology Centers to guide the production of print materials whether designed in-house or by an outside designer. The stated goal is to produce materials that are attractive, legible, and readable by a wide range of users.

Effective Color Contrast: Designing for People with Partial Sight and Color Deficiencies (Graphic version) (Text only)
The colorful illustrations in this brochure give readers a clearer idea of the elements of contrast, including hue, saturation, and lightness. Available from Lighthouse International at 212/821-9200 or 800/829-0500, TTY 212/821-9713, Fax 212/821-9707.

Library Services for Visually Impaired People: a Manual of Best Practice
This manual offers practical guidance for those providing library and information services to people with visual impairments, including assessment of needs, development of policy, and good practices. The manual covers topics such as alternate formats, laws, assistive technologies, training, marketing, and offers advice on services and support available in the UK.

Making Text Legible: Designing for People with Partial Sight (Graphic version) (Text only)
This brochure provides basic guidelines for creating documents that are as legible as possible. Topics discussed include the size, type, color, and leading of text. Examples are provided for each of the ten guidelines. Available from Lighthouse International at 212/821-9200 or 800/829-0500, TTY 212/821-9713, Fax 212/821-9707.

Removing Barriers: Tips and Strategies to Promote Accessible Communication (HTML version) (publications)
Removing Barriers, produced and distributed by the North Carolina Office on Disability and Health (NCODH), contains information on print materials, interacting with people with disabilities, web page design, audiovisual presentations, and using a TTY. Each topic is touched upon in enough depth to get you started on making communications more accessible. You can order a hard copy from the NCODH using the contact information at the end of the document.

Smithsonian Guidelines for Accessible Exhibition Design. Smithsonian Accessibility Program. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996.
A Smithsonian standards manual for accessible exhibitions, publications, and media. To receive a free copy (also available in large print, audiocassette, or Braille) write to the Smithsonian Accessibility Program, Smithsonian Institution, Arts and Industries Building, Room 1239 MRC 426, Washington, DC 20560; 202/786-2942; TTY 202/786-2414; Fax 202/786-2210.


This web site is not intended to offer legal, architectural, engineering, or similar professional advice. Refer specific questions to an attorney or an ADA authority.

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