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Using color to distinguish a visual element


From: Angela Colter
Date: Dec 8, 2008 12:25PM

I'm in the middle of conducting an accessibility review on a nonprofit's Web site using WCAG 2.0 guidelines, and I'd like some opinions regarding whether a component passes or fails a guideline.

The site uses hyperlinks that are styled blue, but not underlined (or bold or anything else that distinguishes text from links.) However, the site DOES include a hover state for links. When you mouse over a link, the underline appears.

Guideline 1.4.1 states that to pass, "Color is not used as the only visual means of conveying information, indicating an action, prompting a response, or distinguishing a visual element."

So here's my question: Is the hover state enough to qualify as a distinguishing visual element? Frankly, I don't think so. If you assumed all the blue on the page is just text, or don't notice the difference between blue and black text, you might not bother to mouse over and trigger the hover state.

What do you think?

Angela Colter
Senior Usability Specialist