There are 783,137 words in the King James Bible. Over the centuries a huge amount of scholarly effort has gone into translating the original manuscripts into a home language. Copying, illuminating, decorating, distributing and then printing versions so that as many as possible can read the Word of God for themselves. We as a church use music, art, architecture, liturgy, and speech to facilitate an immersive sensory experience that leads us into the transcendant presence of the Almighty God. We also produce volumes of text based information. Prayer books. Liturgies. Hymn books. Notice sheets, song sheets, welcome packs, baptism and wedding leaflets, diocesan news and so on. And on.
A multisensory experience is good, but not everybody has full unfettered access to the five senses.
I became unexpectedly and suddenly visually impaired at the age of 63. I commend these guidelines to you when you are producing text based literature for use in church. Not everybody who is visually impaired sees (or doesn’t see) as I see, but these guidelines embody principles that are valuable and effective.
If you go to the effort of writing something, it is a sadness not to make a little more effort to ensure that a visually impaired person has a good chance to read and benefit from it. 783,137 words and I can’t read one of them? The scholars would put their heads in their hands.
John Bentley Dec 2020
The font size is key in making the printed word easy to read. A font size of at least 14 should be used. The larger the font the more people your document will reach.
Stylistic fonts (ornamental, decorative, handwriting style) should be avoided. Condensed fonts can make individual letters bleed into each other, making words more difficult to decipher.
Always work to achieve a distinct contrast between the background and the text, this makes text far easier to read.
Underlined, italicised text and BLOCKS OF CAPITAL LETTERS are hard to read and should be avoided wherever possible.
It is best if we can maintain the same amount of space between each word. Aligning text to the left margin makes it easier to find the start of the following line.
As a general rule this space between two written lines should be 1.5 to 2 times the space between words on a line.
Think about the clear space on a page, space between paragraphs, space around photos, around graphs etc. And space away from the edge of a page. This clear space helps people with sight impairment navigate their way round a page.
Photography should not be overused, when choosing images make sure there is a good contrast between the photograph and the background and that the photo is clear.
The use of a crisp frame is helpful. Laying text over a photograph should be avoided as it makes the text difficult to read. A written description of the photograph should also be shared.
Printing / Laminating
Glossy paper can cause glare and be difficult to read. If you are laminating documents look for ‘matt’ sleeves
It is easy to enlarge documents with the use of a photocopier but this will result in grainy, unclear documents so needs to be avoided.