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Communicating with people with disability

The Tasmanian Government is committed to fostering an inclusive, cohesive and open society in which people with disability have the same rights as other citizens and equal opportunity to participate in the social, cultural, economic and political life of the community.

The Tasmanian Government’s Disability Framework for Action 2005-10 highlights the need to ensure that information about publicly funded services is available to all members of the Tasmanian community.

The following guidelines provide advice on communicating with people with vision impairment, deafness or hearing impairment, intellectual or cognitive impairment and other barriers that limit understanding of print material.

Vision impairment

The five most common methods of providing information for people with vision impairment are:

Large print

Large print documents can be produced on a computer, with text in a variety of font sizes to meet individual requirements.

Type of font: When targetting an audience which is likely to have people with vision impairment a font should be chosen for its clarity and simplicity e.g. Arial which is a sans serif font (sans serif fonts are typefaces that do not use serifs - small lines at the ends of characters).

Font size: The Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities suggests a font size of 16 points as the Australian standard.

Formatting: Careful formatting such as single spacing between lines, a ragged right margin, and using different font sizes to distinguish between headings and main text can help a person locate headings, references, paragraphs, and graphics, and allow faster skimming of the material.

Printing: Variation in paper colour and contrast between print and background needs to be considered. Printing on only one side of a page is often preferable to double-sided printing to prevent a double image on the page being read. Anecdotal evidence also suggest that people with a vision impairment can have difficulty reading text on plain white paper; black text on a yellow or light background creates a strong contrast but can reduce glare.

Braille and moon

Braille and Moon are codes of raised symbols that correspond to the alphabet. Braille is the code taught to those who are totally blind during formal schooling years. Moon is often favoured by people who lose their reading sight in later life.

Both codes have rules governing placement of symbols selected and a high degree of expertise is needed for quality production.

Transcription services

Tasmanian Braille Writers Association

Ph: 03 6231 3202


Brailleways offers Braille and electronic transcription services.

Ph: 02 9686 3665

Computer technology

Information provided via computer can be made user friendly and accessible to people who are blind or who have low vision. An example is scanners that read aloud the text on a page. These can be stand-alone, all-in-one units that scan and read aloud. There is also computer software that reads text scanned on a regular scanner.

For information on guidelines for making websites accessible visit

Documents provided on CD or DVD should be free of diagrams, complex punctuation and word-processing functions such as indent, underline and bold. A hard copy of the document should be provided so the format details can be added to the Braille document.

Service and advice providers

Quantum Technology

Quantum Technology is an Australian company specialising in the development, manufacture and distribution of assistive technology solutions for the blind and vision impaired.

Ph: 02 8844 9888

ILC Technology Access Service

Provides advice, assessment, training and support for assistive technology for computer access, environmental control and communication. Services North and North West Tasmania (63 and 64 phone regions)

ILC Tas (Independent Living Centre Tasmania)
Ph: 1300 885 886

Communication Access

Provides advice, assessment, training and support for assistive technology for computer access, environmental control and communication. Services North and North West Tasmania (62 phone region)

Calvary Rehabilitation Services
Ph: 6238 1801

Audio format

Audio format material can be an effective way of communicating information to people who are blind or vision impaired. It is preferable to engage an organisation that specialises in the production of audio material for people with a print disability, to ensure that standards for narration, indexing, and sound quality of the recording are followed.

Narrating services

Queensland Narrating Service (QNS)

Ph: 07 3895 8555

Hear A Book Service Inc.

PO Box 229, North Hobart
Tasmania 7002
John L Gard, General Manager
Ph: 03 6234 1101


Community radio stations are an effective means of communicating information to the public generally and in particular to people who are blind or vision impaired.

Radio for the Print Handicapped Australia (RPH Australia) has a network of unique, independent radio reading services striving to meet the needs of Australians with a print disability. RPH provides and facilitates access to a wide range of printed material, reading directly from publications including daily major newspapers, magazines, brochures, books and more. The mainstream media supports RPH Australia by waiving copyright to permit national dailies and specialist magazines to be read on air by volunteers.

Information that may have been considered unsuitable for radio may be appropriate to communicate on RPH, such as readings of public pamphlets and newsletters. Contact RPH to discuss the range of information that could be broadcast.

864 AM in Hobart and 106.9 FM in Launceston are the Tasmanian radio stations for the print handicapped.

Radio reading services

RPH Australia

454 Glenferrie Road
Kooyong Victoria 3144
Phone: 03 9864 9207

Print Radio Tasmania

864 AM in the South or 106.9 FM in the North

Program Guide is available on the website. Contact the station and leave a name, address, telephone number and whether the guide is required in large print, CD or Braille format. 

Phone: 03 6224 1864
Fax: 03 6224 1786

Vision Australia - blindness and low vision services provider

Phone: 1300 84 74 66
TTY: 02 9334 3260


Deafness or hearing impairment

Written information is usually accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Other options for providing information to people who are deaf or hearing impaired include:

  • telephone
  • telephone typewriter (TTY)
  • facsimile
  • internet
  • printed information
  • National Relay Service (NRS)
  • visual presentation of the material.
  • captioning of information on video or film, including live captioning of public speeches and information for emergency situations
  • use of NAATI qualified (levels 2 and 3) interpreters; for information on Auslan sign interpreters visit the TasDeaf website:

National Relay Service (NRS)

The NRS is an Australia-wide telephone access service provided for people who are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment. It is also available to anyone who wants to call a person with a hearing or speech impairment.

The NRS is available to everyone at no additional charge and Government organisations can advertise the availability of the service on marketing material where appropriate.

National Relay Service – helpdesk

Phone: 1800 555 660
TTY: 1800 555 630
88 Darling St
East Balmain 2041

Visual presentation

Many people who are deaf or hearing impaired prefer visual forms of communication for ease of reading and understanding.

Transmission of information is facilitated by:


Intellectual or cognitive impairment

People with an intellectual or cognitive impairment can benefit from the use of:

  • large and illustrated print
  • symbols
  • plain language
  • photographs and pictures
  • real objects.

According to Disability Services Queensland, the communication and language skills of people with an intellectual disability can vary significantly from person to person. Some people will use spoken language effectively while others may supplement their verbal skills with augmentative and alternative communication systems.

People with intellectual disability may require information to be presented in a brief and clear but not patronising or childlike manner. Providing information in multiple forms may assist with understanding - for example, providing visual aid may support the effectiveness of a spoken message. Written information may need to be supported visually by symbols, pictures or photographs (Source: