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Accessibility: Useful Content - Part III: Understanding the Message Problem

I decided not jump into any further explanation on Part II because I’m pretty sure after you saw the content, your brain decided to shut off and go back to the work you were doing. Humor me and go back to Part II to look for the following:

  1. Definition of “Hazing”
  2. Examples of “Hazing”
  3. Consequences of “Hazing”

Okay, you probably would need an incentive to go back and read through that, like money or chocolate. More likely money. Since I don’t have either in large quantities, here are the answers:

  1. Definition of “Hazing” – “Hidden” in the first paragraph
  2. Examples of “Hazing” – “Hidden” in the first paragraph
  3. Consequences of “Hazing” – “Hidden” in the third paragraph

I say “hidden” because your audience will not be as inclined to read through paragraphs of that length.

When you have a lot of content to present to your audience, you need to divide it into “digestible” pieces. That is, make it easy to read through in a short period of time.

First question: What are the concepts you want your audience to understand that are hidden in those paragraphs?

First solution: Those are your headings!

Yes, it is that easy! You are already breaking down your large paragraphs by separating them out into meaningful pieces and using maybe a Heading 3 or Heading 4 format to identify your concepts!

Since the entire page in the example talks about “Hazing,” I might consider using just these for the headings:

  • Definition
  • Examples
  • Consequences

Headings allow your audience to scan quickly through the email or web page to find what they are looking for, but that doesn’t guarantee that they will read every word. There are alternatives and other solutions to consider including:

Second question: If you are listing examples, are they important or necessary examples?

Second solution: Those might be bulleted or ordered lists!

Remember trying to find “Examples of ‘Hazing’”? That was a huge list. That list is rather important in a legal sense, so you want to set it apart as well:

"Hazing" includes, but is not limited to,

  1. any type of physical brutality or physical activity that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student (i.e. sleep deprivation, exposure to the elements, calisthenics);
  2. activity involving consumption of a food, liquid, alcoholic beverage, liquor, drug or other substance that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely effects the mental or physical health or safety of the student;
  3. activity that intimidates or threatens the student with ostracism;
  4. activity that subjects the student to extreme mental stress, shame or humiliation, or that adversely effects the mental health or dignity of the student.

Two solutions in Part III describe ways to divide your content into “digestible” pieces. Learn more about making certain pieces stand out on the page in Part IV.