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What Happens When You Cannot Read The "Small Print" (Or - It Is Not Only "Terms And Conditions" Which Can Be Difficult To Read!)
I would like to try a bit of an experiment on you.  Below you will see two photos of timetables.  I would like you to concentrate on the numbers relating to the times and decide which format you think I would find easier to read. (Please ignore the destinations, etc.)

If you say the yellow timetable you would be correct.

The yellow timetable is a Dutch Train Timetable showing trains from Rotterdam Central Station to various destinations.

The other one is the excuse for a Bus Timetable on the stop around the corner from my house (provided by Arriva).  (No wonder I rely on my Mobile phone which has two Apps which tell me when to expect a bus - one by Arriva and one called "Moovit" which tells me the times of all the different bus services from any given stop.)

Oh - and if you are thinking that I would obviously pick the yellow one because the photo was taken from a closer view point - below you will find a full version of that timetable.

I know I might have cheated a bit by comparing a Dutch Train Timetable with an English Bus Timetable - but the Dutch Bus Timetables are only slightly different in format to the Dutch Train Timetables in the way the times are presented.

You still get the times in the 24 hour clock but - instead of the minutes being below each other (as on the train timetable) - they are next to each other in the same row.

Another pleasant difference between the Dutch Bus Timetables and the English ones (in Leicester anyway) is the Dutch keep the routes on separate timetables (even when they are run by the same bus company).

I will now attempt to explain why I prefer the Dutch Timetables.

The Dutch Timetables are really easy for me to see "at a glance".  Unlike on the English example above I can clearly see the important information - as in the hour (the large number in bold on the lefthand side of the timetable).  Once I have found the hour I can easily find the minutes (smaller numbers in the next column).  We will ignore the rest of the information on the Dutch Timetable for now.

The headache caused by the Arriva bus timetable on the stop around the corner from my house is nothing in comparison with the headache caused by most of the bus timetables you find on bus shelters in Leicester City Centre.

Some bright spark appears to have decided to try to copy the Dutch idea with the hours in larger numbers and the minutes in smaller numbers.  This is where the good bit ends.  The bright spark then appears to have decided to put every bus route known to Mankind which calls at that stop on the same Timetable.  So I am left looking at what ressembles a sheet of wallpaper with tiny writing on it.  What makes it worse is when two separate bus numbers head for the same destination using vastly differing routes (with no indication of the actual routes taken
on the timetable itself - you have to crane your head to see the route maps on another sheet of wallpaper next to the timetable).

Why did I tell you all the above???

Well - on Friday I finally met up with someone so we could make a proper start on a photographic project which - I hope - will give people more of an idea about what life is like when you have a severe sight problem.

As part of our discussions I took him to the bus stop described above so I could tell him about my problems with seeing the bus time table (the font is too small for me to see comfortably.

Then I managed to shock him by taking him into the Co-op near the bus stop and showing him this;

What you are looking at is one of those shelf labels which announces "Special Offers" (I would say that there are other versions available in other supermarkets - however, I find them all as difficult as each other to read - Tesco and ASDA are actually slightly worse than the photo above).

I will now tell you what I told him;

I can tell you that the brand is "Carte Noir" (that is in a font big enough for me to read - no problem).  I can tell you that the coffee is Half Price (but if the colours were switched to red writing on a white background I would have a major headache just from looking at it - more about that in a minute).

The price is written in a font which is a little on the small side for me to read comfortably but it is still manageable in small doses.

Now we get to the reason why the man I am doing the project with was shocked.

Apparently the row of microscopic (to me) print actually contains important information if I want to do a price comparison between similarly priced brands.  It can even tell someone with better sight than me when the offer should end.  Me???  I have got absolutely no chance of seeing it without the use of a microscope (even a magnifying glass wouldn't be much use).

The next thing I showed him was better in one way but worse in another;

Brand and quantity of goods in packet is easy to see - same with the price.  They have even managed to make the "small print" slightly bigger too - then they spoiled their efforts with the "small print" by putting it in bold font (rendering it too small for me to see)!!!

(If you insist on writing something in bold and you wish me to see it - let alone read it comfortably - make sure it is 12 point or above.  In fact, if you want me to read anything comfortably I would suggest typing it in at least 14 point - depending on the font.)

Remember I said I would have a problem reading the "Half Price" on the small sign if the colour was switched from White on Red to Red on White???

I have an example for you to see what I mean;

The red writing says "No Parking".

There are four things you need to know about me and the colour red;

1)  I will happily eat a bowl of tomato soup (or any other red foodstuff - apart from red chillies - they are too spicy for me).

2)  If you want me to follow you anywhere please wear a red jacket - my eyes have no problem picking it out in almost every lighting situation (either from a distance or in a group of people).

3) If I see a sign with any red on it I will automatically assume it is telling me not to do something (unless it is immediately obvious that it is advertising something).

4)  If you would like to make something impossible for me to read without resorting to headache medication please write it in red ink, paint, etc.  You can write it as big as you like or as small as you like and in whatever font you choose - the outcome will be the same.  You will get complained at and politely requested to change the colour of the writing.  The colour red is the only colour which has such a bad effect on my eyes when I am attempting to read in it (it is similar to bright light - as in my eyes will focus on it above everything else on a page).

I realise I am one of a very small minority of people with my level of vision.

However, by using font sizes and colours which I find difficult to read - in order to advertise offers, or give other useful information - shops and other businesses, are discriminating not only against me but other people who may have slightly different sight problems.

I would love it if people who were in charge of advertising, design, etc, would remember that less (information on a page) is more, the bigger (the writing) the better, and just because rainbows exist you aren't forced to use every colour in one when you write things down.

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