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Myth: Accessible Sites are Plain

Excerpt from "Understanding Web Accessibility" chapter in Constructing Accessible Websites:

Many people have the misconception that to make a website accessible, you have to take out images and color, make it boring, or "dumb it down" in terms of design sophistication. That is not true. We do not want to limit designs for accessibility, and taking away visual appeal does not serve the best interests of the overall audience. Part of the accessibility-usability synthesis is making the website usable, aesthetically pleasing and commercially viable to all users. It is pointless to design websites that are accessible, but cannot succeed in the market.

In fact, using images and color often increases usability for some people with cognitive disabilities, while also benefiting people who are cognitively average. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Checkpoint 14.2 specifically mandates this:

"Supplement text with graphic or auditory presentations where they will facilitate comprehension of the page. [Priority 3]."

An example of using color to increase usability is in navigation areas of web pages. When navigation links are on a light-colored background and content is on a white background, it is easier cognitively to distinguish between the navigation area and content area. Furthermore, integrating corporate colors in such a design can increase branding and visual appeal.

The above is provided, with permission, from the "Understanding Web Accessibility" chapter by Shawn Lawton Henry in Constructing Accessible Websites


Information on this site is based on the knowledge, experience, and best judgments of Shawn Lawton Henry and other contributors. No warranties or guarantees are implied. Shawn Lawton Henry shall not be liable for any special, indirect, incidental, consequential, punitive or exemplary damages based on this information.

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