Who We Are
BAB is a partnership of individuals and organisations working together to reduce isolation and loneliness among older people in Bristol.
When Kathy’s sight degenerated she felt more and more socially isolated, but she soon realised that keeping busy working with local groups helped boost her wellbeing. “I did not have any support at that time, like Community Navigators Bristol. But working helped me socialise again and also feel useful. It filled the void in my life.”
Kathy joined the Community Navigators Bristol steering group (for services in central, south and east Bristol) because “it hit home with me,” she says. “I have been in that situation, lonely and isolated, so I understand completely how people might be feeling. I felt I could offer a lot of insight and support to the navigators and people they work with.”
And how has her work with the Community Navigator service affected Kathy’s life? “A lot has changed for me since joining the steering group. As a team we have made a difference to people’s lives. I feel pretty proud of that. I really feel positive moves can be made to support lonely people. I am so impressed when I hear stories from the navigators themselves because it shows that the service is working.”
In her role on the steering group Kathy, who is blind, helped us make improvements to the accessibility and inclusiveness of the new Community Navigators Bristol website. As she puts it: “Communication to all is very important whether spoken, written or listened to. It’s very important to me as a lecturer and writer.”
Before Kathy’s feedback, we’d included white text on coloured backgrounds, and also used our branded orange and blue as text colours. Both of these were hard to read for partially sighted people and, as Kathy pointed out, older people whose sight is waning. Now we’ve changed the colour scheme so that we have more accessible colour palette (we used a colour checker accessibility tool to achieve this). This better awareness of colour contrast has also helped us improve the readability of our printed leaflets too.
“If I were reading it I would consider this website only for pensioners and not people 50 years or older. I’m not sure it would get my attention,” Kathy told us. We now use the phrase ‘people 50 years and older’ more frequently in all our communications (not just the website), rather than just ‘older’.
As Kathy pointed out, in the first version of the website people didn’t have an option to get information in other formats. Following her advice, we have created an ‘Accessibility’ page, which gives users the option to get in touch for information in another format. It also provides information about how to change font size and display appearance etc.
We’ve also made sure that all the images have appropriate ‘alt text’ behind them. This makes sure screen readers can provide a meaningful description of the images.
We’ve also improved the appearance of links so it’s more obvious that they are clickable.
Writing is concise, with simple ideas within each sentence. Subheadings are used to help with navigation.
Kathy pointed out that the photos used often depicted younger people working with older people, and that mix of ages should be shown so it’s clear that anyone can volunteer. This is something we will expand as we build our own image bank, but we have made some immediate changes after this feedback to improve the diversity of images.
Kathy’s input has been invaluable and we’ll continue working with her to develop all our communications materials over the next year.
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