Readability=Type Ability: Accessible Type!

Recently in class, I have been learning about the importance of accessible type in design, and it’s not just making sure your typography is readable. Accessible type means that it is easily read by all viewers, including those who have reading or sight impairments. I think designers, including myself, can sometimes get carried away with creative placements and fancy fonts, and forget the basics of accessible type.

A few things to keep in mind I find when designing accessible type is font, hierarchy, and alignment. Art type fonts that are very graphically strong should stay as word marks or headlines; these type of fonts would be very hard to read as a body copy, especially to the visually impaired. I find that sticking to no more then two or three fonts is more accessible as well, since too many fonts can compete and confuse viewers, and be harder to destinguish. I agree that a good type hierarchy needs to be in place as well. Important information like headlines, pull quotes, and subheads should be in bold and/or larger point size, and come before any other type. Main body copy should be smaller then primary and secondary type, but still readable and properly aligned. I find align left is typically easier to read for any amount of copy; right align can be as well, as long as it’s smaller paragraphs or captions. For whatever type I use, I am going to use only two to three colours that are more neutral. Different, bright colours can sometimes compete and confuse the eye, especially to a viewer who could be colourblind and see colours differently.

For our typography class, we are designing brochures with accessible type, and I know that I will be keeping all of these tips in mind when designing my brochure. We may not always have it in mind, but I agree that accessible type should be a must in the professional world of design. What other areas of design would accessible type benefit? What places do you notice that could improve on this? Leave a comment; I’m open to hear any tips on this!

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