Michael J. Young RGD explains AODA colour compliance
Michael J. Young RGD, Information Officer and Designer at The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario (ADO) responds to questions on colour as applied to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).


According to the ADO's Guide to Making Information Accessible to People with Disabilities, making information accessible means considering the needs of people with disabilities, thinking about what might help someone with low vision, hearing loss or a learning disability to help them understand the information being presented. But it doesn't get into as much detail as RGD's AccessAbility booklet so that's a very good resource to review and understand.


Website Colours

If it is possible to do so using the colours and brand guidelines available, try to create a design that is accessible from the start. If, however, the available colours are not up to WCAG's colour contrast criteria, you can provide an optional high-contrast version for users to access. A high-contrast option is a good idea even if your website is already accessible, as it gives people a choice for how they prefer to view the material.


More information about creating an alternative high-contrast style sheet can be found in the WCAG article: 'Providing a control with a sufficient contrast ratio that allows users to switch to a presentation that uses sufficient contrast'


Print Colours
According to the AODA, nothing here is set in stone. As the in-house designer at the Directorate, I try to provide 70% contrast between type and the background as a general rule. At this point, the government can really only provide suggestions, as there is currently no universal criteria for accessible print design.


Two things to keep in mind:

  1. Strive for universal design wherever possible 
  2. Make sure you are able to provide accessible formats upon request.Providing an alternative format is often as simple as directing people with disabilities to a website, or emailing them a Word document.


Other Resources:

Webaim.org has a few good resources about accessibility - their colour contrast checker is an especially useful tool.


The PAC PDF Accessibility Checker is good for covering the elements that the built-in checker in Adobe Acrobat misses, including colour contrast.


For more information about the issues of accessible design, download RGD's AccessAbility Handbook here.