A Web Designer’s Complete Guide to Accessible Fonts
Design, navigation, and page layout are just a few of the factors that matter when it comes to creating an accessible site. However, the smaller details are important too.
In fact, it’s sometimes the smaller details that end up compromising your website, making your business a target for ambulance chasing law firms.
We’ve created this guide to the most accessible fonts to ensure that ADA compliance for websites is that much easier for you and your clients.
Unfortunately, not all fonts were created with accessibility in mind. Many websites use fonts that are difficult for people with disabilities to process. Size, color, and contrast all matter regarding accessible fonts.
The wrong fonts don’t just affect those living with disabilities either, even those with learning difficulties such as dyslexia struggle with certain text.
Using ADA compliant fonts during the web design process ensures that your content is easier to read, your site navigation is convenient, and that assistive technology such as screen readers functions as it should.
When you only focus on the aesthetics of a font, you are isolating certain website visitors, which is exactly what the ADA advises against.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, and many other disability acts across the globe, aims to remove the online barriers countless people encounter daily due to certain type of disability.
Websites that fail to comply with web accessibility requirements could face compliance lawsuits and damage their brands for good. Not to mention all the customers you are potentially losing out on because your site is inaccessible to those living with disabilities.
Now that you better understand why something as simple as a font is essential during the accessibility process, let’s get into the details of how you can comply.
When choosing the right font for a website, there are a few important points to remember.
Letter height & differences
The height and differences between capital and lowercase letters shouldn’t be the same.
Ensure that the font you choose provides adequate spacing between letters and characters.
Pay attention to characters that might look the same when using certain fonts. o, e, a, and c are examples of this.
A thin weight on smaller font size is not deemed to be accessible. Neither are narrow-width fonts.
Lastly, if you use fonts in different colors, it’s important to be aware of color compliance requirements – more on this further down.
It should also be noted that accessible fonts don’t end on your website. Any platform or media you use to communicate with your target audience requires accessible fonts, including images, emails, and PDF documents.
There are many popular fonts to choose from, but not all of them are ideal for accessibility purposes.
The most accessible fonts you can use on your site include:
• Times New Roman
The following are also considered more accessible than others but are better suited to headers:
Choosing the right font is just the first step. You also need to know how to correctly apply the font on your site.
Remember, just because you’ve chosen an accessible font doesn’t mean your text is automatically legible. For example, one visitor may require a larger font size than the next.
Here are the guidelines to keep in mind when applying an accessible font to your website:
Devices & Technology
The size of your text needs to work on an array of devices and with different assistive technologies.
This includes smartphones, tablets, and desktop devices, with screen readers being one example of a common type of assistive technology.
Visitors should also be able to increase or decrease the size of your text while leaving other elements intact, especially to comply with WCAG Success Criterion 1.4.12 Text Spacing.. This is where font size requirements come into play.
Defining font sizes in percentages, em, or rem is best. When defining font sizes in pixels or points, it’s difficult for a user to only increase or decrease the text size without affecting other elements such as images and your menu.
Regarding the minimum font size for accessibility, there is no hard and fast rule. However, it’s recommended that you start at 1 rem, which is the equivalent of 16px.
Then there’s font color. It’s important not to rely on font color alone to convey meaning. Color shouldn’t be used to interpret a visual element or encourage a user to take a specific action.
If you must use font color to convey meaning, be sure to provide an alternative so that visitors with low color perception can also understand. Examples include providing visual cues like underlining or bolding, such as in the case of differentiating a link within a block of regular text.
Lastly, applying the correct color contrast ratio to your text is important. A minimum ratio of 4:5:1 is recommended for body text, while 3:1 is ideal for headings.
Who Can Make your Website Accessible? Our Top Recommendations
- Section 508
If you want your site to be Section 508, ADA, and WCAG compliant, accessiBe comes highly recommended. It’s one of the quickest and simplest ways to identify accessibility issues on your site, ensuring you’re compliant globally. Installation is fast and new users can access a 7-day free trial to test out the tool’s capabilities, including the accessibility panel that your customers will utilize on the front end. AccessiBe’s AI analyzes and scans websites using contextual understanding and recognition. It learns which elements and functions are being used and adjusts them accordingly.
- Account managers available to guide you through the product, pricing, and any questions you may have
- Fast turnaround with a 5 min installation, and 48-hour compliance process
- 200,000+ clients use accessiBe including legal and government organizations
- Includes accessibility statement and certification
- Built specifically for websites and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)- some web apps might not be compatible
- Section 508
This automated, AI-powered solution is another firm favorite among businesses of all sizes. Like many other top tools, UserWay ensures your site is ADA Title 3, Section 508, and WCAG 2.1 compliant. The UserWay panel allows your customers to modify your storefront in a way that meets their needs as disabled users. The tool is also capable of helping you generate an accessibility statement.
- Quick and easy process
- 1M+ website installations
- Affordable cost & dynamic pricing
- Multiple solutions and services offered
- Does not include mobile apps as of now
While applying accessible fonts to your site might take some additional time, it’s an essential part of the web design process. Not only are you creating a site that’s more accessible to all users, but you’re broadening your customer base and avoiding unnecessary and damaging lawsuits.
Find out whether your website is accessible or not by conducting a test on Accessibility Checker
Want to learn more about WCAG and ADA compliance? Here are a few highly recommended blogs:
- How to Test Your Website for ADA Compliance
- Steps for Achieving Mobile App ADA Compliance
- Top 3 WordPress Accessibility Plugins
Scan your website for accessibility related issues for free
There are no hard-and-fast rules about font size in ADA compliance. However, generally speaking, larger fonts are more easily read by people with vision impairments and are more likely to be compliant.
There is no definitive answer to this question, as different fonts can be more or less accessible depending on the specific needs of the individual. However, some widely used fonts considered accessible include Arial, Verdana, Tahoma, and Helvetica.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not specifically mention the use of bold font in its guidelines. However, some experts believe that using bold font can be helpful for individuals with certain visual impairments, as it can make text stand out more and be easier to read. However, others claim that using bold font can make the text look blurry.