Mastering Digital Color Accessibility for Color Blind Users

Graphical picture of Mastering Digital Color Accessibility for Color Blind Users

Color accessibility is vital to ensuring inclusivity and equal access in the digital world. For individuals with color blindness, navigating websites and applications can be challenging due to the reliance on color cues for various functions and information. With an estimated 350 million people worldwide affected by color blindness, it becomes imperative for business owners to prioritize creating accessible colors that cater to this user group. This article will explore techniques and best practices to improve color accessibility for people with color blindness, promoting a more inclusive online experience for all.

What are the Types of Color Blindness?

Color blindness affects your ability to detect certain colors correctly. People with color blindness cannot differentiate between some colors or are unable to see certain colors at all. It is said that approximately 1 in every 12 men and 1 in every 200 women are color blind, which makes it 4.5% of the total world population.

But does every colorblind individual the same?

No, not every color blindness is the same. There are different types of color blindness, the common ones being:

  1. Monochromacy

    An extremely rare type of color blindness, monochromacy, is when a person sees everything in shades of gray. It is where an individual cannot see bright colors but sees everything in black and white.

  2. Tritanopia

    Tritanopia, also known as blue-yellow color blindness, is a type of color vision deficiency characterized by the inability to distinguish blue colors from green and difficulties in differentiating between certain shades of blue and yellow.

  3. Deuteranopia

    Deuteranopia is the most common type of color blindness, affecting the perception of green and red light. Similar to individuals with deuteranopia lack the green cone and have difficulty distinguishing between the colors red and green.

  4. Protanopia

    Individuals with protanopia type of color blindness lack the red cone pigment and cannot differentiate between red and green.

How to Add Color Accessibility to Your Website for People with Color Blindness?

Color accessibility is one of the most important elements of website design and digital accessibility. Without making your website and other digital elements accessible to people with color blindness, you won’t truly follow the digital accessibility rules for visually impaired individuals, making it difficult for them to access your content. So, here are the important website elements that need to be made accessible:

  1. Add Text Labels

    To make color accessibility an important element of your website and digital presence, it's important to add text labels on the non-textual content for people with color blindness.

    Ensure to add alt text on color filters. For example, if your website has different colors in it, it's difficult to differentiate the colors for people with color blindness, especially when selling a product. It's better to add an alt text for a better product description. For example, you can write "white color shoes" in the alt text to help individuals understand the product's color.

  2. Underline Links

    For color accessibility, make it a common practice to denote links in the text by highlighting them to differentiate between the actual text and the link in it. Some users with color blindness cannot distinguish between the link and the normal text by just highlighting the link.

    For example, people with blue color blindness won't be able to differentiate between the link and the normal text if you just highlight the hyperlinked part with blue color. You need to highlight and underline the hyperlinked text to make the color accessible to people with visual impairments.

  3. Use Textures and Patterns

    Adding textures and patterns is essential because people with color blindness visualize content, and these patterns and textures help them visualize the content better.

    When using textures and patterns in your content, use high color contrast, as people with low vision may find it difficult to access the content. Further, if you have added graphs or charts in the content, make it readable to the reader by adding descriptive text.

  4. Apply Symbols and Colors for Contact Forms

    When showcasing an error on the website, some only highlight it with a color. People with color blindness may find it difficult to differentiate the alert from the normal text. To make sure you are making colors accessible on your website, it's necessary to include symbols along with high-contrast colors in the form to make it accessible for everyone. Further, the contact forms must include clear labels that indicate optional or compulsory fields.

  5. Avoid Some Color Combinations

    Certain color combinations are hard to see for people with vision impairments and individuals with color blindness because of their low-contrast nature. These color combinations include:

    • Green and grey
    • Green and brown
    • Green and blue
    • Green and red
    • Green and yellow
    • Blue and grey
    • Blue and purple
  6. Emphasize Text Readability

    For color accessibility, it's necessary to put emphasis on text and its readability. This readability is determined by font size, font color, and text enhancers such as bold and italics. Small fonts with poor color contrast are difficult to read for people with vision impairments and also for someone who is color blind.

What Colors on Websites are Best for Color Blind People?

To ensure optimal accessibility for all users, employing contrasting colors in your web content is a highly recommended practice. By doing so, individuals with color blindness will be able to discern the information with ease. Additionally, incorporating a content map becomes crucial, as it enables users with varying visual capabilities to navigate through the elements on your website effectively. Embracing these color accessibility measures enhances the user experience and promotes inclusivity on your platform.

What are the Benefits of Color Accessibilities for Documents and Websites?

Color accessibility is equally important as other elements in digital accessibility as it’s targeted at providing a better experience for people with color blindness, allowing them equal access to content. There are several other benefits of abiding by color accessibility, including:

  1. Ethical Practice

    Meeting color accessibility criteria for your website is ethically the right thing to do, as today, 1.3 billion people live with some kind of disability. When you don't have a website that follows the code of color accessibility, you are leaving those billion people from visiting your page and bringing inclusivity to your business.

  2. Legal Requirement

    Another reason to keep color accessibility in mind when talking about digital accessibility is the presence of WCAG guidelines. There are several rules, according to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), that need to be followed to make sure everything is accessible to people with disabilities. Every US business website needs to be accessible to everyone, regardless of their disabilities, including low vision, color blindness, and other vision impairments.

    Not keeping color accessibility in mind and not making your website accessible to everyone can leave your business with some serious legal implications. If your business website fails to comply with the rules and regulations of digital accessibility, you can face heavy penalties and lawsuits.

  3. User Experience

    Lastly, keep in mind color accessibility is not only essential for people with color blindness but also for improving the user experience for everyone, regardless of their abilities. This is because no one will like dark text on a dark background or distracting patterns, colors, or effects on the website, as everyone demands a pleasing experience as a website visitor.

Final Thoughts

Improving color accessibility for colorblind users is not only a matter of inclusivity and equal access but also a way to enhance the overall user experience. By implementing simple design techniques such as using high-contrast color combinations, providing alternative text for images and icons, and utilizing patterns or textures instead of relying solely on color cues, we can ensure that individuals with color vision deficiencies can navigate and engage with digital content more effectively.

Technological advancements have provided us with the tools and resources to make these changes without compromising the aesthetic appeal of our designs. Every business owner must prioritize color accessibility to create a more inclusive online environment for all users.

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Debangku Sarma

Digital Marketing Associate
Continual Engine

Vijayshree Vethantham

Senior Vice-President, Growth & Strategy
Continual Engine US LLC

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