WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

Re: Styling for high-contrast mode


From: Wayne Dick
Date: Oct 17, 2008 5:50PM

Dear Dean and other commenters,

Being partially sighted since birth and having completed a PhD.
program in mathematics with this problem, I have looked at many
assistive technologies and accomodations. In fact, there isn't
much technology for reading that I haven't tried since 1970. I
also teach and coordinate the web technology curriculum in the
Computer Engineering and Computer Science Department at Cal.
State Long Beach. So, when I address issues of visual barriers
to perception of web pages, I know tehnically and personally
what is involved.

1. Writing user style sheets to accomodate web sites is very
difficult. Author style sheets are given higher priority, and
tag styling is given the higest priority. To make a site readible
by most people with partial sight one must kill the author's
style completely and start over. This can be done with heavy
handed and extensive use of (!important), or with Javascript.
Javascript can insert style in many ways that overides all the
author's style including tag style.

2. 508 1194.22 (d) is really more complex than if your remove
style sheets than the author can still read it. It also means if
your remove stylesheets, I can read it. Now, if it is not at
least 16 point, I can't read it. 16 point is a tough read for
me, but possible. Anything lower requires magnification. So,
graphical text is not readable without a style sheet in many
cases for me.

3. 508 1194.22 (a) requires alt-text, so, if alt-text that
contains the exact wording of the graphical text is present, I
can read it with only a little difficulty. Of couse, I am a
professor of computer science and I write my own style sheets for
accomodation. I'm not sure how an english teacher with low
vision or a great-granny with normal low intermediate skills
would do.

4. High Contrast is just one kind of UI control that Windows
makes available. One can control color, font family and size.
High contrast is not the only color pattern that helps people
with low vision. Windows gives users the most control of any
operating system, and this applies to all software that uses the
Windows accessability API. Windows has done much better on this
account than any operating system since at least 95/NT era. A
actually think I've had pretty good color, size and font-family
control since Windows 3.5.

5. Pages and software that interfere with the accomodations
provided by the native operating system violate Section 1194.21
(a) which bars such interferance system supplied accomodations.
Graphical Text falls squarely in this category. (A company might
want to fight it, but they will probably end up line Target.

So, High Contrast is just the tip of a very large iceberg. Style
and markup practices that permit flexible reformating to meet the
needs of indivuduals with partial sight and blindness is the real


Wayne Dick