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Information and resources

Ensuring information and resources are accessible

Ensuring information and resources are accessible

Although addressing accessibility issues for people with colour blindness might appear daunting, most of the time problems arise either from lack of contrast between colours or because information in colour is not provided by any other means than colour. As colour blind people tend not to rely on colour to understand information, their instinct is to search for other clues. Therefore, by ensuring you never rely on colour alone when conveying information, you can avoid most problems at the initial planning and design stage. 

Top tips for design: 

  • Never convey information by colour alone; 
  • Aim to use simple techniques in addition to colour such as: 
    • Labelling 
    • Cross-hatching/stippling/shading/dotting  
    • Clearly defining boundaries between colours by outlining in a strongly contrasting colour, e.g. black or white 
    • Highlighting information by underlining, using italics/bold typeface/different font sizes 
    • Identify different information by using colour codes/icons  
    • Ensuring text can be read against background colour. Never use black text against red.  
  • Check links and hover effects on websites are visible against surrounding text and background colours and be aware that hover effects often don’t work on mobiles and tablets 
  • Ensure website designers, marketing teams and organisations publishing digital information on your behalf adhere to the W3C colour contrast guidelines. 

Designing for colour blindness

Colour is an essential tool when designing for everyone since most people do not have impaired colour vision. It is therefore important for designers to realise that effective solutions for people with colour blindness do not need to involve removing colour. There are two main factors to consider when designing information to be accessible to colour blind people. 

Colour contrast 

To ensure people with colour vision issues can understand information provided in colour only, there must be sufficient contrast between colours, for example between text and background colours. In simple terms, if a light-coloured text is used over a light-coloured background it will be difficult to read and dark text would be a better option, even for people who are not colour blind. Unfortunately, designers do not always take this into account and it is common to see stadium plans where all text/block numbers, etc are given in a single colour no matter the colour of the background (see the stadium plan example below).  

Most designs are created digitally. For digital information, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) publishes internationally recognised standards for accessibility of digital data, which includes colour contrast. While these standards were originally developed for websites they can just as easily be applied to all information created and held digitally.  

The minimum W3C standard to achieve sufficient colour contrast is the AA rating which details colour contrast ratios in relation to font size, etc. Many governments and international organisations such as the European Union have already adopted these standards. World Rugby expects clubs and organisations to meet these minimum standards where reasonably practical and where local legislation allows.  

For more information on ensuring websites meet the AA rating, including embedded images, refer to further information in the Glossary under AA rating.

Secondary labelling 

For complicated designs, it is unlikely that more than three or four colours can be selected which have sufficient contrast between each other, for example to denote different pricing structures for tickets on a coloured stadium plan. 

In these instances, accessible solutions use colour (for those with normal colour vision) and extra information for people with colour blindness. 

Left: Colour blind simulation - right: normal colour vision

In the image above, several of the colours used can appear to be the same to people with colour blindness. Some information has been made accessible, for example use of icons in addition to colour to denote locations of different amenities, but some information remains inaccessible, particularly where white text has been used against some light-coloured backgrounds including yellow, grey and pale green. Depending upon the conditions in which the plan might be viewed, for example low level lighting in a stadium concourse, there could also be problems distinguishing between the colours used for the different blocks. Some means of distinguishing between the different block colours should therefore also be added to the plan and a key added. 

Where coloured stadium plans are included on match-day tickets, the scale of the information being conveyed should also be considered.  

Another point designers should be aware of is when information created digitally is to be printed. This is because printed material is specified differently to digital material and the range of colours available for print – e.g. physical versions of stadium plans, branded event material, etc. – are fewer than the range of colours available digitally. Therefore, designs must meet, or preferably exceed, minimum colour contrast ratios at the digital design stage to ensure they are accessible in the printed version.