Recently I’ve been updating my patterns and talking to people about low vision patterns. There are two different versions to consider low vision and screen readers. This is something to consider as both need different things on what you would like to do.
I decided that I would make a pattern that combines both of them so that they are useable for both screen readers and low vision. All the information I have comes from a Ravelry forum called Accessible Patterns, here is the link to the group (reminder this is on Ravelry so be careful if it’s an issue for you).
This blog post is more as I needed a checklist for my own pattern and I’m unable to use Ravelry for longer than 5 minutes at a time. This makes using information from there hard for me and I know it for some of you it will be impossible.
Checklist for a low vision accessible pattern
1. All text must be fully black and on a white background – full 100 percent saturation.
2. 24-point font.
3. Sans serif font (Arial and Verdana are good examples of sans serif).
4. No italics, it’s better to use bold text instead.
5. One single-column text throughout.
6. One-inch margins – for use with magnifiers.
7. All directions fully are written out; if there’s a chart included the pattern you must be able to be made without reliance on the chart.
8. No scanned pdf patterns.
9. No header or footers with any information of substance to the pattern; page numbers are ok.
10. Left justified text.
11. Left justified page numbers, either top or bottom.
12. Single space or one and one-half space between lines.
13. Single space between paragraphs and between groups of information, including long rows/rounds.
14. Use spacing to help separate lists of numbers and sizes.
15. Avoid bullet points, small graphic emblems and icons. Instead space between information groups and/or add bold headings or use numbered lists.
16. Internal links.
17. Write out repeated rows and stay sequential when possible.
Checklist of best practices to create accessible patterns for screen readers.
18. Avoid abbreviations as they can be read differently example st as street or p as page. If it’s written out fully then there’s no confusion.
19. Some screen readers will not see parenthesis or brackets, so use an asterisk instead.
20. Test the pattern on a variety of screen readers the first few times.
21. Add spaces and commas between lists of numbers.
22. Use care with / backslash; it will be read as “over” unless it has a space around it.
23. Add descriptive captions to all images; simple captions are fine – does not need to be alt text format, but this is also helpful, as well as alt text.
24. No tables – screen readers will struggle to read these.
25. State all information that may be in a schematic, chart or image in the text within the pattern.
26. Some symbols will be read strangely in a pattern, so if you use a symbol to designate a repeat, include that explanation in your abbreviation guide.
A couple of things to note for all this information, length doesn’t matter. Someone who wants to make your pattern with you low vision format will not care if it’s a 20-page pattern. They want to be able to create your item. The other things to remember is that don’t make it read-only. Make sure that they can copy and paste out of the document. The reason for that is that if they need to edit it to make it easier for them, they then can do it themselves. We all like a pretty pattern, but unfortunately, a pretty pattern can confuse a screen reader.
Make your pretty pattern and then make another one that makes it easy for the screen reader.
Somewhere to consider going to afterwards is a new website which is creating a database of accessible patterns (off Ravelry), which is accessiblepatternsindex.com. You can support them with their website hosting for this and when you have created your low vision patterns you can speak to them about adding yourself to this list.
They are also planning on running a course by Renee (who is fabulous and knows what she is talking about) and they have tips on there.
I’m not an expert on this topic but I have created my own and had them checked by someone who is an expert. So, if you create one and would like to get me to check out what you have done (as a second pair of eyes), feel free to contact me about this. I will do this free of charge as it’s just checking it.
If you would like me to create your low vision pattern for you so that you can work on new designs or other items, again feel free to contact me and we can have a chat about it.