Welcome to our new accessibility series! This month, we’re looking at web accessibility at LabXchange across four blog posts. We’ll cover inclusive language, accessibility in web development, and accessible design. In this post, we hear from our graphic designers about what accessible design looks like
Each month we highlight different aspects of LabXchange and the Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Science Education project (RDEISE). (Previously, we’ve covered the project’s inception, introduced our graduate fellows and the faculty steering committee, and recently went behind the scenes for an exclusive look at the project's learning designers.)
Historically, the study and practice of science have been inaccessible to many groups and individuals - women, individuals with disabilities, and individuals with limited financial means, just to name a few.
At LabXchange, we are dedicated to making science education more accessible. We aim to understand and respect our global learning community’s evolving needs and perspectives. As part of the Harvard University community, we seek to conform to the university’s Digital Accessibility Policy. The policy is based on The World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1, Level AA Conformance (WCAG 2.1 Level AA). We strive to surpass these minimum required standards and to serve as leaders in this space.
In this blog, we speak to graphic design co-leads Amber Adendorff and Daniele Peplouw about accessibility in graphic design.
A: Accessible design makes use of inclusive practices, such as using colorblind-friendly palettes and ensuring that contrast ratios are sufficient, text is legible, and color alone isn’t used to denote meaning. This lets us reach as many people as possible, regardless of any form of disability. There are many people that have varied forms of disability that affect the way they are able to see and process visuals. These include, but are not limited to, neurological disabilities, color blindness, and vision impairments. Without implementing the standards highlighted in the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), individuals with some of the disabilities mentioned would not be able to properly see or process content.
A: The design team focuses on a few key points. We strive to ensure that our color palette and color combinations are always visible to individuals with various forms of color blindness. We do this by using color blindness simulators to thoroughly check all colors in our artwork. We ensure that contrast ratios always meet WCAG AA standards for graphics and AAA standards for text. We also ensure that text follows additional accessibility standards, beyond just ensuring that contrast is sufficient. Without going into too much detail, some additional considerations include hierarchy and formatting. We also avoid using color alone to denote meaning by using text labels, patterns, and other graphical elements in addition to color.
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