Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

General Design Guidelines for Visual Accessibility

The internet has become a huge part of everyday lives, making it increasingly important to design websites that are accessible to people who are visually impaired. Following are some guidelines that can help to make a website accessible:

Check the site for contrast sensitivity: Subtle differences between colors and shades, like light grey and white, can be difficult to discern for a user who “struggles to distinguish colors.” Some eye diseases lead to decreased contrast sensitivity. Color can  be used to outline and highlight information that is already visible. And differences in shades need to be bold enough to be distinguishable, such as white on black, or yellow on dark blue.
Be mindful of font size and width for legibility: It is important to use at least a 12 point font size for readability. In addition, the font should not be too thin. Sans serif fonts with ample space between sections are also advisable.
Convert an article into audio: Being able to listen to content instead of reading can be especially helpful for a website that is content heavy.
Consider users of screen readers: Avoid having text within an image, for example, since a screen reader will not be able to communicate that content to the user.
Ensure that the designs are adaptable for many screen sizes: For small screens, items should not become too small to see or overflow onto the screen horizontally; on large screen, elements should not become blurry because of “over-enlargement;”
Be specific in “alt text” use: To convey information from an image for use with a screen reader, be specific and accurate.

These accessibility guidelines for people who are visually impaired are also beneficial for all website visitors, particularly those who go to the site via a smartphone or tablet, where small screen size and glare can pose challenges in viewing. For more information and pointers, read Princeton University’s Office of Information Technology’s Digital Accessibility webpage on How to Design for Accessibility and the Usability Geek article highlighting 6 Principles Of Visual Accessibility Design.