Ways to make your patterns accessible

Now, this is a huge topic and in one blog post, I can’t talk about all the different ways of being accessible in your patterns. So, I’m just going to talk about a few ways of being accessible.

I want to start with everyone is different and therefore it’s about making your pattern fit a variety of people as you can not make it accessible to everyone, you have to make choices about what will work for you. One way of being accessible is having your pattern in all the different languages around the world. This one is a hard one to do as I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t know where to start with this. I personally wouldn’t be able to write in any other language so I would have to pay someone to do this. Then I would need to choose which languages to do, as doing them all is not feasible. This is about knowing your customer and seeing which ones would be sensible.

I’ll mention briefly here as I’ve talked about this before is having a Low vision version and for screen readers. These patterns can also be helpful for more people than those with blindness. It can also help people with other reading issues as well. These patterns are not considered pretty, these are purely functional patterns. I have a blog post all about this and also have services that can help you out with this one. One thing I haven’t done before with accessibility is talk about colour-blindness, mainly as this is something I don’t know much about.

Other ways of making your pattern more accessible are how you layout your pattern. Consider your audience and what could you do to help them. Ask your testers what would have made their lives easier. Ask your tech editor if they have any opinions. Speak to your customers and see what you can do. The main thing is to make it as user friendly as possible. This can be done in a variety of ways. Here’s a couple of things to think about. Does your pattern flow easily, from one section to the next or does it feel scattered, like you’re hunting for the information? Do you have page numbers at the bottom of every page (not including the cover here) so that they can easily find where you are sending them when you need them to do to a chart or some other piece of information? Colourwork patterns are something that you have to think about. When you choose which one is the dark colour and which is the light, what happens if they choose to use a light colour for your dark coloured spot and vice versa. Some people will struggle with that, so could you include the reversed chart as well. This would make it easier than trying to make sure to switch them constantly. To make your pattern more user friendly then there are people out there that will help you produce a beautiful but user-friendly pattern out there. One person that I’ve worked with is Erineen Designs, who helped me with my pattern. She is a graphic designer who does this for a living.

The other way of making your pattern more accessible is the big one that everyone is talking about. That’s sizing. This is the biggest topic of all, so definitely more of a brief overview today. The common misconception that I’ve seen with this one though is that you know need 18 sizes at 2” increments as that’s what people want. That’s not the true story. What they actually want is that there is a size close to their own. At the moment, designs are tending to be oversized sweaters, given like 10” ease. Think about whether with a 10” ease sweater you truly need a size every 2”. Say I did it at every 4″ even at the worst-case scenario I will still have 7″ of positive ease, which is still a fairly oversized sweater. In my opinion, it’s better to say the sizes of the sweater and then say what is the intended ease. Then show pictures of the sweater and give the information about the fit and bust sizes of the model. This gives people the choice of having more or less ease. I know for me 10” is pushing it a bit. I prefer something to be a bit more fitted. I’ve written a blog post about this but as a reminder, to you, all ‘One size does indeed not fit all’. Think about those accessories and those socks. I know socks I make for myself would not have a hope of fitting my husband. I have a 64 stitch sock and he has a 90 stitch sock. The major reason that more sizes have been added is it’s easier for people to adjust to their size than having to grade the pattern to make it work for them. Make it easier for people to do the item.

I think the main thing I’m trying to say about accessibility is to make people’s life easy. Don’t just think about yourself and your needs. I’d love to hear your thoughts about accessibility and what else should be included as I know this is more of a brief synopsis to it.

Link to Low Vision Accessible Checklist

Link to Does one size fit all ever fit all?

Link to Erineen Designs

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