Fonts, text size and capital letters: accessibility for designers

  • Author: Access iQ ®
  • Date: 4 Mar 2015
  • Access: Premium

Quick facts

The easiest thing you can do to make a website accessible is to avoid using images of text over straight text.

  • Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.
  • Web-safe fonts are good base fonts.
  • Text as images creates more work for everyone.
  • Design for readability.

This topic focuses on how font characteristics, including text size and stylistic qualities, affect people with disabilities. The aim is to describe the issues people face, highlight the accessibility requirements based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) and best practice, and offer solutions to increase accessibility in designs for websites.

The easiest thing you can do to make a website accessible is to avoid using images of text over straight text. This presents a site's content in an easy to adapt format that can be perceived by screen readers and other forms of assistive technology. Once text is presented as an image the amount of effort required to make it accessible grows, whereas there are several technical options available to style text or use non-standard fonts that retain text as text. Text as images increases download times, cannot be scaled, is harder to read when printed and is not easily available to screen readers.

Accommodating text in a web design has special considerations for accessibility. Text must be available to screen readers, be scalable and legible. It is hard for a designer to consider that some users of a website might need to enlarge the text by 200 per cent without enlarging the rest of the layout. Letting the user manipulate the text, including being able to understand the visual hierarchy through typography is very important for accessibility.

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