It's important to consider the needs of people with disabilities in all areas of life, especially when communicating information.
Most resources are intended for digital designs, as there are many specifications for website accessibility.
However, The AccessAbility: A Practical Handbook for Accessible Graphic Design (PDF) has a good overview of accessibility techniques from a print design perspective.
Here are some major accessibility principles to consider as you design posters, flyers, graphics and more. You can also learn more about creating accessible documents.
Using strong color contrast in your design is a simple way to support people with colorblindness and other vision issues.
The minimum WCAG 2 color ratios are:
- 4.5:1 for normal text
- 3:1 for large text (at least 14 pt and bold, or at least 18 pt without boldface)
- 3:1 for graphics (does not apply to brand or product logos)
The Accessible WSU Color Palette (PDF) illustrates which of our brand colors can be combined according to the color contrast ratios. This is a quick way to find acceptable colors and you can find the CMYK, RGB and Hex values for each color.
If you want to use colors outside of this brand palette, be sure to check the contrast ratios with the WebAim Color Contrast Checker.
This tool is easy and quick to use as you simply enter the hex values for the foreground and background colors. Then you can adjust the lightness or darkness to find similar colors that meet the minimum ratio.
Choosing highly-readable fonts with distinct letter characteristics can help people with cognitive disabilities recognize words more easily.
In general, cursive and handwriting-styled fonts are harder to read. Some people with dyslexia may find sans serif fonts more difficult to read than a serif font because letters mirror each other (such as: b, p, d).
That's not to say that you have to use basic, boring fonts all the time.
Rather, you may choose to use a more decorative font sparingly or for non-essential text, and then use a clearly readable font for the content you don't want people to miss.
These resources can help you understand how typography impacts accessibility:
In addition to color and fonts, the design layout can have a huge impact on whether someone understands the message of the design piece.
A busy design is often as distracting as it is eye-catching, since people don't know where to look first.
Information might be scattered throughout the design so people might miss key details. Or the design might simply be too cluttered with text so people get overwhelmed and abandon the effort.
Some ways to use design to organize information include:
- Keep text as concise as possible, and use plenty of white space to break up paragraphs
- Use headings that are visually distinct from the body text (bold, a different color, a different size etc.) to help draw the viewer's eye to specific sections. You can have multiple versions of the heading style to indicate content hierarchy and provide subheadings.
- Place content or visuals in the "reading order" that you want people to follow. In Western cultures, people typically read a page from left to right, top to bottom. So you might place the title in the upper left corner and then a summary right below
- Keep the number of different fonts and colors in a single design to minimum
The 12 Visual Hierarchy Principles Every Non-Designer Needs to Know is a creative introduction to these ideas, albeit without a focus on accessibility.