Preparing documents for visually impaired people

Writing for visually impaired people

Can your VI patients read your letters? This guidance has been put together to help you prepare documents for visually impaired people.

Font

The larger the font the easier it will be to read. Font size 16 is recommended for large print documents. If this is not practical, font size 14 is the best compromise. Avoid stylised typefaces, which may look attractive but they can be illegible to the visually impaired. Use bold or semi-bold style, not light fonts. Avoid blocks of capital letters, underlined or italicised text, as they are all harder to read. A couple of words in capitals is fine. A separate note can be used to emphasise a section if necessary.

Numbers

Visually impaired people often have difficulty distinguishing between the numbers 3, 5, 8 and 0. Use a font type that is easy to read and, where practical, confirm numbers in words.

Spacing and alignment

Use left alignment and at least 1.5 line spacing.

Columns

Some people prefer to read columns rather than long lines of text across a page. Leave enough space between columns and/or use a vertical line to distinguish between columns.

Contrast

The contrast of the type against the paper will have implications for its legibility. Black text on white or yellow paper is adequate for most visually impaired people.

Setting text

When setting text avoid: using vertically placed words; placing text over images as this can camouflage words and text wrapping around images. 

Page layout

Use a consistent page layout, so as not to confuse the reader. For example,  titles, headings, and numbers should be repeated in the same place and in the same style on each page. A contents page can be helpful for long documents. Paragraph spacing can divide text and improve document flow.

Forms

People who are visually impaired often have handwriting that is bigger than average. Therefore the spaces available for the individual to complete or sign a document need to be bigger. We can provide signature guides for use with visually impaired people on request.

Printing

Glossy finish on documents can create glare, which makes it difficult to read for those with a visual impairment. Try to choose paper with a matt finish where possible. Thin paper that bleeds images and text from the reverse is not recommended. Choose uncoated paper that weighs at least 90gsm for the best results and only print on one side, if possible.