Here’s a fact: There are pretty bad web designs out there that pose challenges in making content accessible, even for people who have perfect vision.
Kevin Marks, an Open Web Advocate and one of the founders of Microformats, said it perfectly, “I thought my eyesight was beginning to go. It turns out, I’m suffering from design.” He detailed his experiences in this article.
If the website you’re browsing is using text that it’s difficult to read, probably the best thing to do is to stay away. However, we do understand that you will be encountering some websites with crucial information and you just have to take the pain – imagine reading that almost off white text against that white background. Looking at the bigger picture, if the web is swamped with sites that are not too friendly too read, it excludes the elderly, visually impaired, or those using low-quality screens from benefitting from their content. This is a big step back from web accessibility as more and more people rely on computers to access information and acquire services that are important to their lives. Here’s a good objective for the long run: Make sure everyone can understand the content of your website!
If you are someone like Kevin who is a victim of this design trend, here are some suggestions:
Change text size depending on the browser. Most web browsers are equipped with the ability to allow its users to decrease or increase the text in a web page.
Here’s an alternative to adjusting your browser settings:
Turn off styling on web pages and opt for a plain layout view. This will render your text black and the background white (depends on the browser settings) and removes any background images. This will also linearize all information into one column. Learn how by clicking here for Firefox and Opera.
Adjust screen or browser color. Learn how by clicking here for Firefox and Opera.
Note that not all browsers and websites are designed for flexibility and user control. The suggested steps above work well on browsers that meet the WAI guidelines.
If you are a web designer, it is best to check color contrast and text readability. You can do so using the following options (reference and more resources available here):
- Colorable (Demo) by Brent Jackson (*new favorite* h/t @JimJones)
- Luminosity Colour Contrast Ratio Analyser by Juicy Studio
- Colour Contrast Check by Jonathan Snook
- Color Contrast Checker by WebAIM
- Check My Colours by Giovanni Scala
- Color Safe by Donielle Berg & Adrian Rapp
You can also voice-enable your site to assist most visitors in getting most out of your content. Try ResponsiveVoice Now!