Color me accessible

Posted March 24th, 2007

Perception of color might be a forgotten or neglected disability. Some people notice or think about disabilities only when they are quite apparent, such as someone in a wheelchair or someone using a white cane when walking down the street. When you know that someone can see, you don’t immediately think that they might perceive colors quite differently from the way you perceive colors.

Having only recently discovered the Webaxe podcasts, I have been catching up on all their older podcasts. Their 16th episode was about color and accessibility. It inspired me to post some information about color. The references apply to Web, but you can also think about these matters in document design.

This particular podcast had a nice little discussion about color, and the related blog entry pointed to an article by Ann McMeekin, Byte Size Standards, where she discusses coloring with contrast and provides many useful links to more articles and some tools for analyzing the color on your pages (including Juicy Studio’s Colour Contrast Analyzer.) The Juicy Studio Colour Contrast Analyzer inspired Vision Australia to make their own tool.

Other tools or articles?

Vischeck has tools to show you how people with various sorts of color deficiency view colors.

Graybit displays the world in shades of gray. When your site is displayed in grayscale, you will see whether your color scheme has adequate contrast.

Visibone has a page about colorblindness. One of the links they include points to a resource from bt.com that discusses safe Web colors.

Read about Color Theory for the Color-Blind over on Digital Web Magazine. Written by a color-blind designer. Quite interesting. Even if you do not work with any form of Web design, you can use his comments to inspire and guide you in working with documents. Many technical communicators discuss how to identify and style hyperlinks in a document that may be read in a PDF online or on a printed piece of paper. Some people use color for headings or important text in documents. What consequences will that have?

How to Design Web Accessible Pages for the ColorBlind is yet another article that explains the need to consider colorblindness for a Web site. It, too, contains even more links on the topic.

Last, but not least, Scott Abel pointed me in the direction of an article by Todd Follansbee about colorblindness and usability. Todd Follansbee is colorblind and has some practical comments on the topic.

I like to think that a designer, or whoever is dealing with the issue of color, will regard it all, not as a hindrance, but as an exciting challenge to creativity.


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