WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Re: High contrast options


From: John E. Brandt
Date: Oct 22, 2008 10:05AM


I cannot speak for the whole list but as someone who has been doing this
work for years.

My philosophy in design - and what I have encouraged others to do - is to
make sure you don't do anything that takes control away from the user. If a
user needs high contrast, larger fonts or particular colors, they can
install and use their own browser style sheets with those presentational
elements. If the website is built incorrectly and does not allow the user to
control this, it is not accessible (or usable).

There are plenty of ways to view a website without images, and if the user
wants them turned off, they should be able to do so.

The issue of font sizing (adding font sizing controls to the website using
JavaScript) is also controversial. Again, there are many ways a user can
adjust the size of the fonts with their browser - IF - the designer lets

Build your site using WCAG and/or Section 508 guidelines and make sure the
code validates to W3C standards (I know not everyone agrees with this) and
the site should be usable to the largest number of people.

BTW, the color contrast issue is minor compared to the more common issue of
ALT descriptions for images, labeling input boxes and captioning videos.


John E. Brandt
Augusta, Maine USA

-----Original Message-----
[mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Carol Wheeler
Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 11:03 AM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: [WebAIM] High contrast options

Our sites (Word Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research)
are undergoing a redesign and I was asked to comment on the high contrast,
mostly because I am the squeaky wheel. My accessibility expertise is limited
to trying to read as much as I can and being on this list.

Am I correct in thinking that the question of dark text/light background v.
light text/dark background is more individual to users than accessibility on
the whole? (Font scaling is being included in the redesign.)
It has been suggested that the high contrast version eliminates images, I
think this is a bad idea--yes?
I also ran across a previous discussion point when searching the archives
that including high contrast icons is an important consideration.

Carol E. Wheeler
Web Department
American Institute for Cancer Research
1759 R Street NW
Washington DC 20009
Tel: 202-328-7744
Fax: 202-328-7226