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Paint the town…inclusive: selecting colors for legibility

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Paint the town…inclusive: selecting colors to increase legibility

Tips for designing inclusive color palettes: prioritize contrast, avoid relying solely on color, provide alternative formats, and consider context and content.

Inclusive design is important in this day and age as it ensures that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can access and interact with products, services, and information.

By prioritizing inclusive design, we foster a more equitable society that values diversity and removes barriers for individuals with disabilities.

A large part of creating inclusivity in design is considering the colors we use and choosing colors that comply with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines.

Here’s how we select colors that meed ADA compliance standard and improve our designs and enhance legibility.

Contrast is key: high contrast between foreground and background colors help readability.

Aiming for a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 ensures people with low vision can read the content easily.

Consider color blindness: approximately 8% of men and 0.5% of women have some form of color vision deficiency.

To accommodate users with color blindness avoid relying solely on color to convey important information, instead use additional visual cues like patterns and textures.

Or avoid specific color combinations that are commonly hard for people with color blindness:

  • Red & Green
  • Blue & Purple
  • Green & Brown
  • Light green & Yellow
  • Red & Brown

Or label color-dependent information.

Some ways to do this are with text-based descriptions, icons, or symbols to further describe or label elements that may be color-coded.

Consider context and content. Certain colors hold specific symbolism or cultural associations that can influence comprehension.

For example, green often represents "go" or "safe," while red signifies "stop" or "danger.”

Choosing colors for your brand or products goes beyond an aesthetic choice, color palettes designed for inclusivity helps businesses expand their customer base, improve user satisfaction, and foster brand loyalty.

Image recaps traits of inclusive color palettes: have a high contrast ratio, consider color blindness, use labels, follow cultural norms.
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