Making a Will is often considered a particularly daunting task for many of us; however having sight impairment can make this even more so. A Will is one of the most important documents that you may make in your lifetime, and therefore not being able to see the document you are signing clearly, or at all, can cause anxiety. However with a few amendments to the process, making a Will can be a simple and stress-free process for all. Below we will discuss some areas that can be adapted during the Will writing process, to ensure an inclusive and comfortable service is available for all clients.
Formatting the Will
For any documents sent to clients with vision loss, altering the formatting appropriately to suit each client’s needs can radically help to improve their comfort and their ability to read the documents clearly.
Below are some general tips on formatting documents:-
- Always check with your client if they would like the font to be a larger size, as most clients will have a preferred font size. You should never just assume a larger font size will be required; as the client may already have assistance (such as a magnifying glass) meaning the larger font may actually encumber rather than assist them.
- Be aware that visually impaired clients may have difficulty distinguishing between the numbers 3, 5, 8 and 0 (three, five, eight, and zero) and it is best practice for all numbers to be spelt out so that they can be read clearly.
- Avoid stylised fonts, underlining, italics and large blocks of capital letters as these can be harder to read.
- Increase the line spacing where possible to help separate the text and make it easier to read, and try to avoid long paragraphs.
- Coloured or glossy paper should be avoided, and photocopies should be clear on matt bleedproof paper. Where possible documents should be printed one sided, so that there is no confusion from words coming through on the opposite side. Some clients may experience visual perceptual distortions and so it is best practice to ask if they have a particular type of paper that assists them.
Although a Will in braille is not a valid legal document as it can be easily altered, providing a copy of the Will in braille allows the client to read through the copy independently to confirm that they are happy with the original. Similarly an audio copy of the Will could be a useful alternative format to provide to the client, so that they can listen to the Will being read out at their own speed and as many times as they require.
The charity, Royal National Institute of Blind People, are able to assist in converting documents to braille and audio. To find out more please contact their transcription service on Business.Mailbox@rnib.org.uk.
Signing the Will
It is very important that your client is able to confirm they are happy with the contents of the Will before they sign the document. Therefore if the client is unable read the Will (including where they have approved the copy Will in braille), it should be read to the client out loud by one of the witnesses at a clear and steady pace. The Will can then be signed by the witness on the testator’s behalf which will need to be stated in the attestation clause accordingly, alongside a statement that the Will has been signed ‘after this document has been read over by [name of witness] to the Testator (who is blind) when the Testator seemed thoroughly to understand and approve the contents’.
At Aston Bond we like to make sure that creating a Will is accessible for all by adapting the above practices into our services, to ensure that those with sight impairment are comfortable and understand the process from start to finish. If you, or someone you know, are hesitant to make your Will due to sight impairment then please know that we are here to help and do not hesitate to contact us on 01753 486777.