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Is your graphic ADA accessible?

Why open a store that customers can’t enter? Same goes for graphics. Why create a graphic that people can’t see?

Creating graphics for the color-blind is like constructing buildings for the disabled. If a designer neglects special-needs individuals, their creation will be denied its largest audience.

According to our WSJ guide, about 1 out of 10 men are color-blind, so a graphic not designed with consideration for color-challenged individuals could alienate a lot of viewers. 

The text discusses some rules of thumb to create color-blind-friendly graphics, e.g. avoiding red-green color charts. Here’s another tool, a color-blind simulator that converts images into what color blind people see: http://www.colblindor.com/coblis-color-blindness-simulator/

One could upload a graphic into the color-blind simulator to see if it accessible for everyone. It’s not that much work.

Ok, so you may like the idea of checking the color-blind-friendliness of your graphs, but will you actually complete an extra step and upload your graphics?

I guess that depends on how big of an audience you want.



3 thoughts on “Is your graphic ADA accessible?

  1. The WSJ guide has a clear focus on teaching us how to make graphics in a simple, accurate and effective way. The choice of color you mentioned here is one example. When we choose attractive vibrant colors, have we ever considered whether they would stand in the way of communication? Have we thought about readers who’re color-blind? Likewise, pp 49-90 continue to teach us to avoid confusions and misrepresentations. For example, does a smaller person icon (p88) mean a dwarf? Or simply a decrease in the number of persons? And, too many grids (p82) renders the opposition of cleanness. When we make graphics, we should put ourselves in the views’ shoes and try to make the graphics readily understandable. Like news, readers want it faster, and even faster, so info graphics should be a form of news that expedites information dissemination while reducing complexity, confusions and misrepresentations.

    Posted by qianruisha | September 18, 2012, 4:08 am
  2. Interesting post Matt – it addresses an issue that appeared in our WSJ reading a few times … are we trying to create art or simply relay accurate information. One example included the addition of drop shadows and 3D rendering to bar charts to simply improve appearance. Designing for the visually impaired would certainly require some extra steps, but I think its necessary.

    A similar practice is involved with coding websites. Certain metatags and code are required when visitors utilize software that read the site. I wonder if there are programs that would be able to do the same for web graphics if they were coded in a certain way – I don’t think the basic JPEG would do the trick.

    Posted by Philip Prouhet | September 18, 2012, 10:30 am
  3. Matt, your website brows my mind. My younger brother has red/green colour blind and now i know what i see if i look through his eyes.

    So what we learnt from the part “Colouring for the colour blind” is to avoid using diverging red/green or blue/yellow colour scales in our graphics. According to WSJ Guide Page 44, “These colour combination is similar in value or lightness. The colour intensity overpowers the underlying data…. The lack of contrast in lightness makes it virtually unreadable for colour-blind users.”

    I found a tangible example for how mapping goes wrong with red/green colour scale. Helpful to check it out.

    So the lesson we learnt is to use colour combination with contrast lightness or darkness in our graphics.

    Posted by margaretnym | September 18, 2012, 6:35 pm

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