Colour contrast: accessibility for content authors

  • Author: Access iQ ®
  • Date: 21 Jan 2013
  • Access: Premium

Quick facts

  • Sufficient colour contrast between text and its background assists people with moderately low vision to read your text.
  • The contrast between the colour of text and its background must meet colour contrast requirements defined in WCAG 2.0.
  • Although logos are exempt from colour contrast requirements, the use of logo or brand colours in text must still meet colour contrast requirements.

People who are colour blind, vision impaired, or who have an age-related impairment often struggle to read text when there isn't enough contrast between the colour of the text and its background. Guideline 1.4 Distinguishable focuses on ensuring that the way information is presented normally on a screen is accessible, which includes colour contrast.

If your website has been designed to meet WCAG 2.0, the colours used in the templates should already be accessible so you don't need to worry. Instances when you will have to pay attention to colour contrast requirements may include:

  • when manually changing text colour, such as the colour of a text heading
  • when manually changing background colour, such as the background colour of a table cell
  • when there is text within an image, such as a text label on an axis of a graph

There are two levels of colour contrast to consider, depending on the level of accessibility you are aiming to achieve:

  1. There are minimum colour contrast requirements for those meeting WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliance and
  2. enhanced colour contrast requirements for those meeting WCAG 2.0 Level AAA compliance, which is the highest level of accessibility.

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