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The Importance of Accessibility Color Contrast in Website Design The Importance of Accessibility Color Contrast in Website Design The Importance of Accessibility Color Contrast in Website Design Paradigm Marketing and Design

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The Importance of Accessibility Color Contrast in Website Design

Author: Michael Scorcia Category: Web Accessibility Articles, Web Design Date: April 26, 2019


Graphics, colors and contrasts are a vital aspect of web accessibility that must be met in order to be ADA compliant for all users. Color contrast for web is a simple but critical concept in web design and is defined as “the difference in light between font (or anything in the foreground) and its background.” By meeting the color contrast ratio standards, you are ensuring that your website content can be read by all users.

Following the guidelines for color contrast ratios is an important step when making your website accessible and ADA compliant. These strategies for website design for the visually impaired can benefit individuals who have low vision, low contrast vision, or color vision deficiency. By implementing the color contrast ratio guidelines into your website design, you can help create a clean color palette that will not cause unnecessary eye strain and is not distracting, which all users will appreciate.

As you are beginning a website design, be sure to follow the proper ADA guidelines for color contrast ratios from the start. It is going to save you time, money and frustration by implementing all of the color contrast guidelines from the beginning stages of website development than having to go back to fix every issue.

Here are some tips to help ensure that you are using an accessible color palette:

  • Create brand guidelines that are compatible with accessibility color contrast In some cases, your current brand/brand color may not be compliant with the color contrast ratios. Be sure to review your brand palette to ensure that it will work in conjunction with the web accessibility color contrast guidelines.
  • Implement proper color guidelines in all navigational areas of the site. This includes your menu and footer areas of the site. These sections are crucial for users when searching throughout your site.
  • Review and test all newly implemented guidelines while in the design phase of your site. This will help eliminate revisions when further down the line in the development process of your site.

Color contrast guidelines for web accessibility can be found in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation speaks to color contrast ratios as well as the appropriate 508 compliant colors that should be used when designing and developing web content. With all of these color compliance rules, how do you know what is a good contrast ratio to have and if your website design is compliant?

Luckily, there are some tools that will help you understand if your site design is going to “pass” the ADA requirements. Many of these tools are powered by Chrome and help you gauge your current level of accessibility color contrast as well as if your site is using 508 compliant colors.

Accessibility Color Contrast Tools

  1. WCAG Contrast Checker Chrome

This is a browser extension that will check your site to see if it meets the proper accessibility color contrast requirements. It checks for color contrast between the foreground and background elements and evaluates the contrast on all elements of the page. The color contrast generator will analyze your site pages and rate its level of compliance.

  1. Color Contrast Analyzer Tool

This is another browser extension. It allows you to analyze text color contrast problems and allows you to review your web pages on a more granular level. You can also test files (i.e. image files or PDFs) on your computer to gauge their level of compliance.

When updating your brand to meet all the accessibility color contrast standards to meet the ADA compliance guidelines, it is best to start from the beginning. If you are looking to create a website design that is ADA compliant, we can help.. Contact us today to get started.

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