Accessibility Tip of the Week

A sign for the times.

  • Summary: Check your signs, brochures and posters to make sure letters have enough color contrast with the background to be readable.
  • Who it helps: Individuals with vision impairments, including individuals who are color blind and experiencing age-related vision loss.
  • Additional benefits: Text is easier to read with glare, in low light situations and from far away.

When you are designing or purchasing objects with text on them, consider the contrast of text and background colors. Let’s use the sign below as an example. While it has braille for individuals who need it, the text does not have enough contrast to allow for easy reading.

A silver sign with silver letters.

When we talk about color contrast, we are referring to how dark or light one color is compared to another color. From an accessibility point of view, good contrast between letters and their background makes reading easier, particularly for individuals with vision impairments. When the contrast is low, the readability drops. Some of your audience won’t be able to read the sign or will need to get very close, slowing them down and causing frustration.

What can I do?

When picking colors for a sign, brochure or poster, we recommend using a color wheel. Consider the following:

  • Pick colors that have a high contrast. Use light text on a dark background or dark text on a light background.
    • Black on the silver sign above would work well.
  • Select colors that are not near each other on a color wheel. These tend to be low contrast.
  • Select colors that are not directly opposite each other on a color wheel (complementary).
    • Red and Green are an example of this. These colors can cause visual vibrations, particularly when they are a similar hue.

Learn more about color contrast 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.