I thought I’d bring together some of the discussions I’ve had on Twitter today about writing accessible blog posts for people with M.E. Yes – a blog post about blog posts!
I know I’m not alone in having difficulties with reading because of my M.E. cognitive symptoms. I’m slow and if I concentrate too hard on cognitive tasks for even a few minutes on a bad day it can quickly push me over into really bad fatigue, with that feeling of having hit a brick wall, or trigger a migraine.
I often find myself clicking a link on Twitter that looks interesting but it’s a really long article with massive paragraphs and I get over-faced. I end up with lots of bookmarked articles for when I can concentrate better (so when’s that going to be? I must have hundreds to read!).
So from chats today, here are some ways of writing with people with M.E. in mind:
- Use bullet points instead of long lists in sentences
- Use diagrams if possible. A picture is worth a thousand words! (I’m a big fan of infographics!)*
- Use short paragraphs
- Keep articles short and sweet. If they have to be long, use anchors at the top of the post to go straight to the key points, like I did with this article, or split it up over several posts. It makes it easier to pace ourselves.
- Use a plain and simple design with no busy graphics and animations
*I’ve just been reminded that replacing lots of words with a diagram isn’t good for screen readers/text-to-speech software, so both the text and a diagram should be available. For photos, alt and description fields should describe it, especially if the photo has text within it.
These points might also be useful for other bloggers, and also health professionals writing health promotion literature or medicines information. There are some guides on writing in plain English and Crystal Clear here. I haven’t managed to read them yet but let me know if you find them useful.
What are your thoughts on the layout of this post, as an example? If you have a blog or write articles do you have any tips for me and others on this subject? Let me know below (here are some ground rules for safe discussions).