Accessible communication benefits all audiences by making information clear, direct and easy to understand. It takes into consideration the various barriers to accessing information, and provides opportunities for feedback.
Libraries communicate with users in a variety of ways, including in person, through printed materials, and via online spaces such as websites and social media. Providing clear and concise information, targeted to a particular audience, is important to ensure that all users have equal access to information. Although the vehicle for this information may change, the message is the same.
This section presents best practices for making communications accessible. Many of these techniques apply to multiple ways of communicating. For example, plain language is not only important when writing content for the web and printed materials, it is also important when speaking directly to library users.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) requires organizations to comply with standards to create an inclusive and accessible environment for all Ontarians. Part II: Information and Communications Standards of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) is particularly helpful to libraries in making their information accessible for people with disabilities.
Of particular relevance to this section is the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service (Customer Service Standard). To read more about the requirements and how this standard applies to Ontario’s university libraries, please refer to the Customer Service Standard section of this toolkit.
The following two resources also provide outstanding general information and tools about the Customer Service Standard, including compliance best practices:
- Communication Canada’s Successful Communication Toolkit: Literacy and You (PDF), released in 2003, provides an overview of straightforward communications practices in a variety of formats, and identifies some of the common barriers to good communication.
- Council of Ontario Universities (COU)’s Accessible Campus Reference Library provides tools, resources and adaptable templates to help Ontario universities comply with the AODA requirements.