As librarians and designers, our users should always be at the forefront what we create. Sometimes this means tailoring our creations to a specific audience, like students in a university setting or teens in a public library, but often our users are anyone who comes into the library space. When you create those fliers or infographics to post on your LibGuide, are you also designing for the population of users that have a vision impairment or use assistive technology? Can those users get the same information from your design as someone without a disability?
To me, that question is what is at the heart of accessibility.
I know, the A-word can be intimidating. Everyone is talking about it, and there are laws and guidelines and a lot of work goes into making something accessible and don’t we already have enough on our plates? I get it y’all, trust me. Addressing accessibility is a whole Thing, which is why Jess and I have decided to dedicate several posts specifically to the topic. Because really, accessibility* is not out of reach for any us.
It should come as no surprise that there is a panoply of online resources to help you create accessible documents and (thankfully) most of the are free! But in an effort to not overwhelm you with information, I’ll leave you with one resource that I have bookmarked and use every time I design something new: WebAIM’s Color Contrast Checker.
While all of WebAIM’s resources are great, I especially love the Color Contrast Checker because it not only tells me if the colors I’m using pass or fail Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards, but it gives the ratio of how close to passing/failing I am. All you have to do is plug in a color in hexadecimal format (or hex code) for foreground and background, and voila! You have your report.
If you don’t know the hex code for the colors you’re testing on and it’s within your browser, you can use an extension like ColorZilla to pick the color from a webpage. If it’s something you created and want to test, you can always use something like Image Color Picker to upload and grab the color.
Testing the color contrast of your text and images can help you create documents that are accessible for all sighted users, including those with vision impairments. Although it may not seem like much, it is a critical part of designing for accessibility.
Stay tuned for the next post in our Designing for Accessibility series and if you have an accessibility related topic or design you’d like to share, let us know!
*Footnote: The term accessibility can be applied to many things, but for the most part we’ll use it specifically with web and document accessibility in mind.
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