Web 2.0 Evolution

Web 2.0 & Accessibility

How much important is colours in our accessibility designs?

Posted by be_Productive on October 18, 2007

Sometimes the client or the client’s design agency creates the visual design and leaves conversion to HTML + CSS + JavaScript and CMS-ifying to us. When that happens, we almost always find problems with insufficient colour contrast in the design. Sometimes the problems are minor enough to be acceptable, but often there are areas that need to be adjusted.

In case you’re wondering why we care (and why I think you should care) about the colour contrast of a website, it’s very simple. If text does not have sufficient contrast compared to its background, people will have problems. People with colour blindness or other visual impairments as well as people browsing the Web under less than ideal circumstances (bad monitor, window reflections, sunlight hitting the screen) may not be able to read the text, at least not without difficulty. And you don’t really want that, do you? If you publish text on a website, as most people do, we are guessing that in almost all cases it is because you want people to read that text.

There are different algorithms used to calculate contrast colours:

Note that neither of these algorithms are W3C recommendations (at least not yet), but they are still useful for determining if a combination of text and background colours is likely to cause problems for people with colour blindness or other visual impairments.

There are several tools to work with colours:


2 Responses to “How much important is colours in our accessibility designs?”

  1. mtamayoo said

    Take a look at the Expression family of products from Microsoft.
    These guys have taken the experience of their participation in the WCAG working group that is defining the WCAG 2.0 standard and have launched a product called Expression Web that includes automatic accessibility checking tools.
    They even comply with the Section 508 of the U.S. code for accessibility(http://www.section508.gov/)
    Expression is a full-fledged family of products that go from the writing of simple web pages to the managing of digital media including video editing, drawing (rendered and vectorized images) and web application development.
    Tools similar to this might be arising in the next months endorsing (and forcing) making the WCAG 2.0 proposal a new standard that replaces the “old” 1999 WCAG 1.0 specification.

  2. Jose Jesus said

    Thank you for your links, vanemu. I could’n imagine there were so many tools dealing with contrast and color!! 😀

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