While the science behind color blindness is pretty complex, the gist of it is that color blind people have difficulty seeing color clearly or differentiating between some colors. With this in mind, in this article, we’ll share some tips on how you can improve your site’s accessibility and the experience it delivers for color blind people.
Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) is a consulting and research firm, specializing in user experience and usability. NNG conducts research on design trends around the world, across industries, companies, and user types. They have a number of publications that provide simple design guidelines that anyone can follow to improve user experience and usability, including reports on user centered design methodology and reports for special audiences like senior citizens, children, teenagers, college students, and users with disabilities.
The report “Beyond ALT Text: Making the Web Easy to Use for Users With Disabilities” is offered for free on the NNG website.
Designer and illustrator Geri Coady authored an interesting piece about designing for people who are colorblind on the web design blog 24 Ways to Impress Your Friends. Coady provides background about colorblindness and explains how it can affect the usability of various visual media such as websites, graphs, maps, and even video games. Coady also explores design solutions that can provide color accessibility.
WHdb has put together a great list of ‘100 Killer Web Accessibility Resources: Blogs, Forums and Tutorials.’ The list is broken up into several categories, including resources for people who are color blind and hard of hearing, or those looking to expand their knowledge on how to create an accessible website.
Davey Winder has written a great article for PC Pro that explains how web designers can create websites that are more accessible for people with low vision. Winder suggests looking at webpages through a low vision simulator, in order to get an idea of how people with low vision experience the web. Winder also covers the importance of user configurability, or providing users with choices regarding color contrast and text size. Since color contrast preferences can vary widely from person to person it is a good idea to provide at least two high-contrast options; one that is dark text on a light background and another that is light text on a dark background. Users should also be able to configure the size of text and the overall design of pages should be relative so that pages can be widened or narrowed without excessive horizontal scrolling.
In the summer of 2011, President Barack Obama asserted the need for the enhancement of technological accessibility. In attempting to be more compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, Federal websites are required to be fully accessible to people who have disabilities.
In March of 2012, the administration sought feedback from citizens on how to achieve the goal of accessibility – more specifically, were they on the right path with their strategic plan in place.
Universal Design (UD) is an approach to design that increases the potential for developing a better quality of life for a wide range of individuals. It is a design process that enables and empowers a diverse population by improving human performance, health and wellness, and social participation (Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012). It creates products, systems, and environments to be as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability or situation.