Accessibility Tip of the Week

Contrast is not just about differences.

  • Summary: When images have text in social media, place the text on a contrasting background and repeat the text outside the image.
  • Who it helps: People with low vision and who are blind.
  • Additional benefits: Helps your audience read your content outside and in high light areas.

We often add text to social media images, either to advertise, inspire or to meme. To ensure that as many people as possible can read the text in your content, you need to be thoughtful about how you place it. We’ll be using an image of a rainbow over a hay field as an example.

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When text is added over a background that doesn’t have enough contrast, it becomes harder to read. In the image above, the dark gray text blends into the light gray cloudy background. For people with vision impairments, the readability will be problematic.
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The above attempt places the dark text over the light green grass background at the bottom. The largest issue is that the text disappears entirely in the dark bush in the lower right corner. Another problem is that the hay bales in the field place a texture behind the text that blurs it.

What can I do?

There are a few strategies you can use to create readable graphics with text.

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Add a shadow or colored box behind the text.

  • This shadow can be dark or light as long as it contrasts with the color you use for the text.
  • If you make the shadow or colored box semi-transparent, it can provide enough contrast for the text while still allowing some of the image to come through.
  • In general, place the text (and the contrasting shadow or box) over the least important part of the image.
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Darken or lighten the entire image and use larger and heavier text to make it more readable.

Lastly, for people who cannot see the image at all, make sure you add alternative text to the image that includes the text written on the photo. If the social media platform doesn’t allow this, repeat the text in the post itself.

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.