Make your materials clear for older donors

publication date: Mar 20, 2013

Changes in eyesight are inevitable as human beings age, according to The Canadian Association of Optometrists. Blurred vision at close range and growing need for higher light levels affect everyone in their middle years. And the chance of something more serious – cataracts, glaucoma or macular degeneration – grows with age.

That means it’s becoming harder every year for your Boomer and Civic donors – your most generous cohorts if your charity is typical – to see your printed materials, emails and website.

To keep your print pieces with these groups clear and readable, follow these tips from CNIB:

  1. Use high contrast colours for text and background. Good examples are black or dark blue text on a white or yellow background, or white/yellow text on a black/dark blue background.
  2. Printed material is most readable in black and white. If you use coloured text, restrict it to things like titles, headlines or highlighted material.
  3. Bigger is better. Keep your text large, preferably between 12 and 18 points, depending on the font (point size varies between fonts). Consider your audience when choosing point size.
  4. Leading is the space between lines of text and should be at least 25 to 30 per cent of the point size. This lets readers move more easily to the next line of text. Heavier typefaces will require slightly more leading.
  5. Avoid complicated or decorative fonts. Choose standard fonts with easily-recognizable upper and lower-case characters. Arial and Verdana are good choices.
  6. Opt for fonts with medium heaviness and avoid light type with thin strokes. When emphasizing a word or passage, use a bold or heavy font. Italics or upper-case letters are not recommended.
  7. Don’t crowd your text: keep a wide space between letters. Choose a monospaced font rather than one that is proportionally spaced.
  8. Break text into columns to make it easier to read. That will require less eye movement and less peripheral vision. Use wide binding margins or spiral bindings if possible. Flat pages work best for vision aids such as magnifiers.
  9. Use a matte or non-glossy finish to cut down on glare. Reduce distractions by not using watermarks or complicated background designs.
  10. Use distinctive colours, sizes and shapes on the covers of materials to make them easier to tell apart.

Of course, consideration for your older donors doesn’t stop there. Whether it’s an elderly supporter facing macular degeneration or a trendy Boomer who’d rather not pull out her reading glasses, don’t make them work to understand your mission and accomplishments. Visit the CNIB resources page for more help to make your printed materials, website, events and presentations accessible for donors with vision loss. 

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