Typography and Accessibility: The Essentials


To ensure your website provides equal access and opportunity to people with disabilities, it must fulfil certain design criteria to meet web accessibility standards, and typeface is one area of this.

Typography and Accessibility

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What Is an Inaccessible Typeface?

If the typeface is too ornate or intricate, then this can be too difficult for people with visual impairments to read. If the characters within the typeface are not well defined or have an irregular shape and size, this can also make the typeface inaccessible for users. If you are still unsure, you can visit https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/user-centred-design/accessibility for more information.

Making Your Typeface Accessible

It is always advisable when making your website accessible to seek the advice of professional web designers. This could be advice on web design in Cardiff, London, Norwich or whatever location you are in.

Look for a typeface which has large open counters. This will increase accessibility by forming more distinctive shapes in letters containing white space (such as ‘o’ and ‘c’) and will likely increase the x-height, meaning more whitespace for letters such as ‘e’.

Choose a typeface with even and smaller stroke contrasts. This could mean avoiding serifs, as they tend to feature a greater stroke contrast due to their calligraphic tradition.

Your typeface should contain distinct letterforms in order to avoid any ambiguity and confusion for your users. In particular, check your typeface for how it handles problematic characters. Any fonts that can cause confusion are inaccessible. There are some styles which contain similar characters – for example, the number “1” can look like a lower case “I” and the capital “I”. Another instance of this is an upper-case “B” looking like the number “8”. This can lead to visitors not being able to differentiate between them and not being able to understand the content.

When talking about accessibility, a consistent rhythm is very important. This means looking for a typeface that has regular spacing between the letterforms. People process text via saccades, so this means content is easier to process if the spacing between the typeface is consistent. There are many web designers offering fully accessible sites, such as http://ambercouch.co.uk/.

By taking on board all of these factors, you should be choosing a typeface that provides large counters, an even stroke with small contrasts, distinctive characters and also a consistent rhythm.

Written by suNCh8

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