Jessica Porreca, Pharm D
Tips for Creating ADA Accessible Designs
Updated: Dec 16, 2022
Last month we discussed font tips for ADA accessibility. However, typography is just one component of overall design accessibility. Design accessibility plays a huge role in ensuring that the end user can interact with and respond to whatever you design. Designing from an accessibility standpoint has the potential to benefit all participants, not just people with disabilities, because accessible design typically delivers a better user experience for everyone.
You might be wondering why designing for accessibility is important. Not only is it part of the United States Law, but it’s also the right thing to do! Imagine opening a magazine, advertisement, webpage, or flyer and not being able to read or see the content. This is unfortunately a daily experience for many people due to poor design habits. According to the World Bank, approximately one billion people worldwide live with a disability. These reasons are why the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was amended to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Under Section 508, agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information comparable to the access available to others. This also applies to businesses receiving funding from the Federal Government.
Designing with accessibility in mind can also benefit your business in a couple different ways. Primarily, your organization can reach more customers, increase current customer satisfaction, and gain a competitive edge over those who don’t include accessibility features. There is also a cost savings benefit for starting out with accessibility in mind instead of having to redesign later. Not only that, but your company will also avoid any costly ADA lawsuits if your materials are already compliant.
One of the biggest components of design accessibility is color contrast. The color contrast ratio is essentially the difference between the color of the text and the background color in a design. According to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, the visual presentation of text and images of text has a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for small text and 3:1 for large text. Color and text are main components of graphic design and should be easy for everyone to see and read. The color contrast ratio requirements apply to text and graphics that are essential for understanding the content or functionality. There are plenty of free online color contrast checkers that you can utilize to check your designs.