7 Ways to Make Your Site Accessible for Color Blind Visitors

According to Prevent Blindness America, 53.2 million Americans aged 45 and up have some visual impairment, ranging from mild to severe, with roughly 18% of those affected being “legally blind.” Furthermore, 39 million individuals worldwide are blind, while 246 million have poor vision, accounting for a total of 285 million users.

Important: Color blindness, low vision, and blindness are the most common visual impairments.

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And although the statistical fraction of people with visual impairments is minimal compared to those without, you still must account for them throughout the design phase. It would be neither fair nor right not to include designs that provide help and ease of use for persons with visual impairments.

Here’s where web accessibility comes into play! It allows persons with disabilities to perceive, comprehend, navigate, engage with, and contribute to the Internet.

Note: User experience (UX) designers should ensure equal access for all users by designing web-based experiences that can be used, understood, and accessed by people with a diverse range of visual, auditory, cognitive, and physical abilities, similar to how the Americans with Disabilities Act stepped up for those who cannot walk and required wheelchair access to all buildings constructed after 1991.

How to Make a Website Accessible for the Blind and Visually Impaired?

While the following suggestions aren’t exhaustive, they address some of the most prevalent problems people with visual impairments face when accessing the Internet. As a result, you should primarily focus on the seven tips below. Another option is to get a web accessibility checker to get the job done for you, but that will cost you some money indeed.

screenshot of Best Accessibility Tools article

Tip #1: Strong Contrast Is Your Number One Solution

First, you should test colors to ensure they have the correct contrast ratio for reading. Testing colors will allow you to ensure they have the correct contrast ratio for reading. Using automated tools such as the Stark plugin for Sketch, you can easily do so. This tool, for example, tests different combinations of text color on a different backdrop color while also taking text size into account.

Note: WCAG 2.0 level AA specifies a 4.5:1 contrast ratio for normal text and a 3:1 contrast ratio for large text (i.e., 14 points and bold or larger, or 18 points or larger).

Next, color contrast checkers are commonly used to ensure compliance with this standard; thus, it’s a good idea to bookmark the WCAG’s rules and recommendations.

Also, while utilizing graphs, think about including textures or patterns. When the ranges of value, hue, and saturation start to break down, these add an extra layer of scannability and difference between data points.

Tip #2: Don’t Put Too Much Emphasis On Color

When it comes to alerts, warnings, and actionable page components like textual links and buttons, go beyond a mere color change to demonstrate that they are significant to the user. People almost universally recognize underlined blue text as a link. Still, some websites highlight blue text but do not provide any links.

Warning: When the color treatment is removed, colorblind users should be able to believe that the underline will indicate that it is a link.

Additionally, icons and relevant labels to accompany alerts and actionable page components will help users. There should be multiple visual cues for each page element. Users will notice major action cues such as size, placement, boldness, and icons, similar to underlined links. Therefore, an icon, shape, positioning, or text can be used to enhance images, links, buttons, and other similar elements.

Tip #3: Enable Manual Font Adjustment

There are a variety of techniques to improve accessibility for the visually handicapped these days, including using magnifying software and allowing users to modify text size in browser settings. Many persons with low vision, particularly older adults suffering from age-related vision loss, do not utilize magnifying software and may not be aware of their browser’s font size adjustment choices.

Note: Brands and organizations (especially those with content-heavy websites) become friendlier to visually impaired people by providing a clear option to change the font size, whether it’s a slider, a drop-down, a button — anything.

Tip #4: Limit The Color Palette In The Interface

The more colors you utilize in a design interface, the more difficult it will be for users, even non-vision-impaired ones, to rapidly recognize essential activities and links. As more colors are introduced, this becomes more difficult for someone color blind. So, you must develop a good color palette to overcome these obstacles. Adobe Photoshop CC software is a good tool for this, which supports simulating color blindness.

Important: Another excellent tool for creating color palettes for websites or applications is Color Safe.

Tip #5: Label Links And Buttons With Explicit And Descriptive Labels

Avoid ambiguous link labels like “click here.” People who use screenreaders frequently utilize a keyboard shortcut to display all the links on a page to navigate more efficiently. This list of links generates a contextless state because there is no surrounding text.

As a result, it’s critical to establish descriptive and explicit link labels that make sense even when the context is removed, which is the best practice beneficial to all users.

Tip: Descriptive link labels can also make it easier for sighted users to examine the site, which helps with search engine optimization (SEO).

Tip #6: Grant Keyboard Accessibility

For visually handicapped users, keyboard shortcuts can make navigation much easier. Because it demands hand-eye coordination, navigating with a mouse is impossible, especially true for blind people who use screen readers to navigate the Internet.

On the good side, keyboard instructions allow persons with low vision to visit a website without straining their eyes to focus and follow a mouse pointer across the screen.

Tip #7: Avoid Specific Color Combinations

Because color blindness affects people differently, avoiding specific colors isn’t enough. Colorblind users may experience difficulties with certain color combinations.

Here’s a rundown of frequent pairings to avoid:

  • Green/blue
  • Green/black
  • Green/red
  • Green/brown
  • Green/gray
  • Yellow/light green
  • Blue/purple
  • Blue/gray

What Is Color Blindness? How Does It Relate To Web Accessibility?

Color blindness is defined as the inability to discern between colors such as red and green or yellow and blue, as well as the inability to sense any color at all. It affects around 300 million people worldwide and appears in a variety of forms, degrees, and combinations.

Simply put, there are so many different types of color blindness. Due to this, it might be challenging to determine which color combinations are the worst for most colorblind persons.

Here are the most common types of color blindness:

  • Red-Green Color Blindness: The most prevalent type of color blindness is red-green color blindness. It has two forms – deuteranopia and protanopia. Protanopia refers to the inability to sense red light, while deuteranopia is the inability to perceive green light.
    Note: People’s ability to detect and distinguish between reds and greens is hampered (or even impossible) by both of these factors.
  • Red-Black Color Blindness: When the two hues are layered on top of one other, someone with red-black color blindness has trouble differentiating between them. Someone with red-black color blindness, for example, will be unable to view a web page with a black backdrop and red text.
  • Blue-Yellow Color Blindness: Tritanopia or Tritanomaly are other terms for blue-yellow color blindness. Tritanopia is a condition in which a person’s ability to sense blue light is impaired, making it difficult or impossible to distinguish between yellow and blue light. Tritanomaly is a disorder in which a person can not distinguish between the colors yellow and red and blue and green.
  • Total Color Blindness: Achromatopsia, or total color blindness, is a rare condition in which a person is unable to see color. They perceive everything in grayscale instead.

The thing is, it is a moral requirement to adhere to color accessibility guidelines. You have a role to play as the owner of a website housed on the public Internet in making that website available to as many potential users as feasible.

Note: In a 2021 accessibility test, 86% of the top 1 million homepages on the Internet failed to achieve color contrast requirements. That means 860,000 of the most popular web pages were not created with persons with impaired vision or CVD in mind, which is a huge disadvantage.

Color blindness accessibility, like all accessibility efforts, aims to improve the user experience for people with different abilities, but it also has many advantages for your website.

  1. If you don’t actively include color blind people in the design of your website, you would practically be excluding people who might be interested in the material on your site (customers). The concept of digital inclusion refers to creating a world in which everyone has equal access to digital opportunities, regardless of aptitude, race, geography, creed, or platform. So, making an effort to build a digital experience that is accessible demonstrates your commitment to leading the push toward a digitally inclusive future.
  2. The legal consequences of color accessibility (or the lack thereof) are also significant. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can be used for US businesses whose websites are inaccessible to some persons “on the grounds of disability,” despite its origins in physical places. Color blindness, low vision, and other limitations might make it difficult for someone to utilize a website.
    Warning: When businesses fail to comply with accessibility guidelines on their website, they risk facing legal action from or on behalf of disabled users, including lawsuits, damages payments, and more.

    So, designing your website with a variety of accessibility vectors in mind reduces your risks of breaking regulations and facing legal consequences.
  3. Color accessibility isn’t only for colorblind people. Consider the last time you went to a website with black writing on a dark navy backdrop or other distracting colors, patterns, or effects that made it difficult to find what you wanted. Did you persevere or give up and look for what you needed elsewhere? Did you look around the rest of the site? How long did it take you to complete it?
    Tip: Even for the ordinary sighted visitor, the more intricate and ambiguous a web page’s use of color grows, the more frustrating it becomes. The same WCAG guidelines that allow colorblind persons to utilize your site also make it easier for other visitors. Lowering annoyance, increasing visitor satisfaction, and lowering bounce rates lead to a better online experience.

Final Thought – Color Blind People Need Accessible Websites

When it comes to accessibility, website owners and developers don’t always consider the needs of colorblind persons. Website accessibility features assist a wide range of people, many of whom you would not think of as “disabled,” therefore, it’s critical to think about making your site accessible to everyone.

There is still more work to be done to make web experiences more accessible to those with visual difficulties.

Final verdict: Web experiences that are accessible and practical not only reduce accessibility barriers and make the Internet easier to use, but they may also empower persons with visual impairments by giving them more flexibility and independence online (especially for people who are blind).

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