Accessibility Tip of the Week

Colors get lonely.

  • Summary: When color conveys information, you should add at least one other visual indicator.
  • Who it helps: People who are color blind or have low vision.
  • Additional benefits: Your audience can better understand your content when printed in grayscale or viewed on a mobile device.

Color can call attention to your content, help sighted individuals quickly perceive and process information, create a mood, and brand a product. However, not everyone in your audience may be able to distinguish between colors:

  • Color-blind individuals are not always able to distinguish between colors and generally do not benefit when color is used to convey information.
  • Individuals who have low or limited vision or who use a screen reader may also not be able to quickly distinguish between colors.
Line graph using red for sales and green for donations. Lines and markers are the same.
Graph using color as information.
Lines and markers are the same color brown. There is no way to tell the lines apart.
Simulated view of red green color blindness when color is the only indicator.

What can I do?

To fix this, add at least one other indicator when the color has meaning to ensure that everyone can understand the information being communicated.

Some examples of additional visual indicators are:

  • Adding text or text labels
  • Changing contrast, size or shape
  • Including icons or symbols
  • Modifying the texture or pattern
  • Altering the presence, absence or location of information
Lines and markers are the same color brown but markes are different shapes, One line is solid and one is dashed.
Simulated view of red green color blindness when shape and texture are additional indicators.

Learn more about color at ta11y.org.

This work is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0    .

If you are promoting accessibility within your organization or community, sending out easy-to-understand tips can be a helpful addition to your strategy. You are welcome to share the tips here under the mentioned Creative Commons license, as long as you cite Accessible Community as your source.