From texts and emails to logos and websites, fonts are everywhere. But in the world of design, it's not just about what looks good—it’s also about accessibility.
To design inclusive products you have to think “beyond aesthetics” and consider how visually impaired or color-blind audiences would experience your content. Font selection can be critical in ensuring that people with visual impairments can access your product: as they say, "one size doesn't fit all."
Dive into this article to learn more—we’ll examine the best fonts for accessibility so you can create an ADA-compliant experience for everyone who visits your website or interacts with your product.
What are accessible fonts?
Accessible fonts are designed to be easier for visually impaired people to read and interpret. The accessibility features of these fonts include increased letter spacing, bold outlines, higher contrast ratios, and wider characters.
When choosing a font for accessibility, it’s essential to consider how the font will look on different display sizes, as some fonts may be more legible on a large display than on a small one. Additionally, accessibility fonts should be optimized for platforms like mobile viewports and accessibility readers.
In short, accessibility fonts are important because they help ensure that everyone can read the content you create regardless of ability.
What are the ADA requirements?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. The ADA’s accessibility requirements state that all websites and products must be accessible to people with disabilities, including those who are visually impaired.
When it comes to accessibility fonts, the ADA recommends using font families that have been designed specifically for accessibility purposes. In order for a website or product to be ADA-compliant, it must use fonts that are easy for visually impaired audiences to read and understand. These fonts may include large x-heights, wide character spacing, and a bold outline to make the characters easier to read.
The accessibility requirements of ADA extend beyond font selection; other accessibility measures include providing alternative text descriptions (alt tags) for images, providing audio descriptions of videos, and creating a responsive design.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is an international accessibility standard developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The guidelines specify how websites and products should be designed to ensure accessibility.
Regarding font selection, WCAG recommends using fonts with a x-height of at least 1.5 times the font size. This will ensure that the text is legible and can be read by people with visual impairments.
WCAG also states that accessibility fonts should have a high contrast ratio, meaning they must be at least 4.5:1 for regular text and 3:1 for large text (approximately 18pt). Additionally, accessibility-optimized fonts should have a wide character spacing and clear distinction between similar-looking characters, such as “l” and “1”.
When selecting accessibility fonts for any project, be sure to research and ask yourself if the font is ADA-compliant and meets accessibility guidelines.
The Best Accessibility Fonts for Visually Impaired Audiences
Now that we’ve covered accessibility guidelines and requirements let’s look at the best accessibility fonts for visually impaired audiences.
OpenDyslexic is a free accessibility font designed specifically to increase readability for people with dyslexia. The font features bold lowercase characters and wider letter spacing to help make the text easier to read and interpret.
Arial is a sans-serif font that has been designed with accessibility in mind. It has a high x-height, wide letter spacing, and a clear distinction between similar-looking characters. Arial is also compatible with accessibility readers and screen magnifiers, making it an ideal choice for accessibility projects.
Helvetica Neue is another popular accessibility font with a large x-height, bold outlines, and increased character spacing to make the text easier for people with visual impairments to read. Additionally, Helvetica Neue also supports accessibility readers and screen magnifiers.
Verdana is another accessibility font that has been specifically designed for accessibility purposes. It features a large x-height, bold outlines, wide character spacing, and clear distinction between similar-looking characters to help make the text easier to read. Additionally, Verdana is compatible with accessibility readers and screen magnifiers.
How to make your fonts accessible?
In addition to selecting accessibility fonts, there are several other ways to ensure your fonts are ADA-compliant.
By taking these steps, you can make sure your fonts are ADA-compliant and more accessible for people with visual impairments.
Using accessibility fonts is just one of many ways to create an inclusive experience for all users. With thoughtful design and implementation, accessibility features like accessibility fonts can help create a better user experience for everyone.