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Accessibility: Useful Content - Part II: Finding the Problem

You want your audience to come away from your email or web page with all the information you put there, but was the format of your message useful for the audience?

Keep in mind, your audience is not always going to stick around and read through every single link, every single paragraph, or every single image that you provide them. They will be looking for the quick and easy.

What was your audience really supposed to understand from the beginning, and what could they explore deeper at a later point in time?

Let’s look at an example of content. As mentioned before, Johnny Robinson gave me permission to use this example of very important information that involves law, students, and major consequences:

“Hazing” means any intentional or reckless act occurring on or off the campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a student that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of that student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization whose members are students at an educational institution. “Hazing” includes, but is not limited to, 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); 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; activity that intimidates or threatens the student with ostracism; activity that subjects the student to extreme mental stress, shame or humiliation, or that adversely effects the mental health or dignity of the student.

The aforementioned activities are examples of specific hazing offenses only. Any type of activity that falls within the general definition of hazing is prohibited under the hazing law. Consent of the individual subjected to the hazing is not a defense to prosecution of an offense under the hazing law. Organizations that are covered under this law include a fraternity, sorority, association, corporation, order, society, chorus, cooperative, corps, club or service, social or similar group, whose members are primarily students at an educational institution. A student includes an individual registered or in attendance at an educational institution, an individual accepted for admission at an educational institution or an individual who is on vacation from an educational institution and intends to attend that institution during any of its regular sessions after that period of scheduled vacation.

Specific penalties that may be imposed against an individual or organization guilty of an offense under the hazing law include the imposition of fines ranging from $5,000-$10,000 and/or confinement in the county jail for a period of time ranging from 90 days to two years. The specific penalty imposed for a hazing offense depends on the seriousness of the offense and whether or not bodily injury or death to an individual resulted from the hazing incident. If an individual reports an offense of hazing to the Dean of Students, the individual is immune from liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed as a result of the report. However, a person reporting in bad faith or with malice is not so protected.

If you are ready to Understand the Message Problem, go to Part III. If not, start thinking about what could make this content hard to read and comprehend.