Let’s Learn How to Test Your Color Scheme for Accessibility!

Greg | CEO & Developer
Written on: June 1, 2023
The CEO & Lead developer for Ark Web Design. Let me personally help take your business to entirely new levels across the Internet.
color scheme for accessibility

Designing a visually appealing website is essential, but ensuring it’s accessible to a wide range of users is just as important. When creating a color scheme, it’s crucial to test it for accessibility, so everyone can easily read and navigate the site. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through how to test your color scheme for accessibility, ensuring it meets the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards.

First, let’s briefly explain the WCAG requirements for color contrast. There are two levels of compliance: AA and AAA. For normal text, AA requires a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1, while AAA demands a ratio of 7:1. For large text, AA needs a 3:1 ratio and AAA requires 4.5:1. By following these guidelines, we’ll make our website more user-friendly for people with visual impairments.

To test our color scheme, we’ll need to determine the contrast ratios between our chosen foreground and background colors. There are various online tools available to help with this task, such as Colorzilla for extracting color values and WAVE for analyzing contrast ratios for all page text elements. We’ll also discuss other essential aspects of accessible design, like using color alone for links and considering graphical objects and user interface components. So, let’s dive in and make our website design accessible to all!

Understanding Accessibility Guidelines for Color Contrast

When designing a website, it’s important to ensure that the color scheme is accessible to everyone, including individuals with visual impairments. This is where the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) come in.

Overview of WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1 Guidelines

The WCAG provides a set of guidelines to help ensure that web content is accessible to all users. WCAG 2.0 was released in 2008, while WCAG 2.1 was released in 2018. Both versions provide guidelines for color contrast, but WCAG 2.1 includes additional requirements for graphics and user interface components.

Understanding Contrast Ratio Requirements

To meet WCAG guidelines, the contrast ratio between the foreground (text or graphics) and background colors must meet certain requirements. For normal text, the contrast ratio should be at least 4.5:1 for WCAG 2.0 AA and 7:1 for WCAG 2.0 AAA. For large text, the contrast ratio should be at least 3:1 for WCAG 2.0 AA and 4.5:1 for WCAG 2.0 AAA.

WCAG 2.1 requires a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 for graphics and user interface components. This includes form input borders and other elements that are not text-based.

Tools to Ensure Compliance

There are several tools available to help designers ensure that their color schemes meet WCAG guidelines. Colorzilla is a popular tool for extracting color values from website elements. WAVE is another tool that can analyze contrast ratios for all text elements on a webpage at once.


Meeting WCAG guidelines for color contrast is an important aspect of creating an accessible website. By understanding the requirements and utilizing tools to ensure compliance, designers can create a website that is accessible to all users.

Choosing Color Palettes with Accessibility in Mind

Designing with accessibility in mind is essential for creating inclusive designs that can be enjoyed by all. One crucial aspect of accessibility is color contrast, which can impact the readability of your text and the overall usability of your design. In this section, we’ll explore best practices for testing color contrast and tools for choosing accessible color palettes.

Best Practices for Testing Color Contrast

Achieving adequate color contrast is key to creating accessible designs. Here are some best practices for testing color contrast:

  • Use a color contrast checker tool to ensure your colors meet WCAG 2.1 guidelines for accessibility.
  • Aim for a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for body text and 3:1 for larger text.
  • Consider using bold or italic text to increase contrast when necessary.
  • Avoid using color alone to convey important information. Use patterns or text labels as well.

Tools for Choosing Accessible Color Palettes

Choosing accessible color palettes can be challenging, but there are many resources available to help make the process easier. Here are some tools you can use to create accessible color schemes:

  • Contrast Checker: This tool allows you to test the contrast of your colors and provides suggestions for improving contrast if necessary.
  • Color Safe: This tool generates accessible color palettes based on WCAG 2.0 guidelines.
  • Accessible Color Matrix: This tool allows you to compare the contrast of different color combinations side-by-side.

By using these tools and following best practices for color contrast, you can ensure your designs are accessible to everyone. Don’t let color be a barrier to accessibility – make it a priority in your design process.

Testing Color Contrast for Accessibility

As a website owner, it is essential to ensure that your site is accessible to everyone, including those with visual impairments. One of the critical factors to consider is color contrast. If there isn’t enough contrast between the background and text, users with visual impairments may find it challenging to read the content.

Using Color Contrast Analyzers

The easiest way to test color contrast is by using color contrast analyzers. These are tools that check the contrast ratio between two colors and determine whether they meet the accessibility guidelines. There are several contrast analyzers available online, such as the WebAIM Color Contrast Checker, Contrast Checker, and ColorSafe.

When using a contrast analyzer, you will need to input the foreground and background colors to check the contrast ratio. The tool will then display the ratio and indicate whether it passes or fails the accessibility guidelines. If the contrast ratio fails, you will need to adjust the colors until they pass.

Understanding Contrast Ratios

Contrast ratio is the difference in luminance between the foreground and background colors. It is measured on a scale of 1:1 to 21:1, with 1:1 being no contrast, and 21:1 being the highest contrast. The WCAG 2.0 guidelines recommend a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text. WCAG 2.1 requires a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 for graphics and user interface components.

Large text is defined as 14pt (typically 18.66px) and bold or larger, or 18pt (typically 24px) or larger. WCAG Level AAA requires a contrast ratio of at least 7:1 for normal text and 4.5:1 for large text.

Links to Additional Resources

To learn more about ensuring accessibility on your website, check out the following resources:

In conclusion, testing color contrast is an essential part of ensuring web accessibility. By using a color contrast analyzer and understanding the contrast ratios, you can make your website more accessible for all users.

Improving Color Accessibility for User Interfaces

As designers and developers, it is important to ensure that our user interfaces are accessible to everyone. One crucial aspect of accessibility is color, as some users may have color blindness or other visual impairments that make it difficult to distinguish certain colors. By addressing these issues, we can create interfaces that are more inclusive and user-friendly.

Addressing Color Blindness and Other Visual Impairments

Color blindness affects approximately 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women worldwide, with red-green color blindness being the most common type. To make our interfaces more accessible, we need to consider the different types of color blindness and how they affect users.

For example, someone with deuteranomaly may have difficulty distinguishing between reds and greens, while someone with protanopia may not be able to perceive red light at all. Blue-yellow color blindness is less common but still affects a significant number of people.

To improve color accessibility, we can use tools such as color contrast checkers to ensure that there is enough contrast between different colors. We can also use patterns or textures to differentiate between elements instead of relying solely on color.

Another approach is to provide alternative ways of conveying information, such as using icons or text labels in addition to color. This can help ensure that users with visual impairments are still able to understand the content and interact with the interface.

Related Resources

For more information on designing for accessibility, check out the following resources:

By taking the time to consider color accessibility and other aspects of accessibility, we can create interfaces that are more inclusive and welcoming to all users.


In conclusion, testing your color scheme for accessibility is crucial for ensuring that your website can be used by everyone, regardless of their visual abilities. By following the guidelines set forth by WCAG 2.0 and 2.1, you can make sure that your text and graphical elements have adequate contrast ratios to be easily distinguishable. Remember, color alone should not be the only way to convey important information, as it may be difficult for some users to differentiate between certain colors. By using tools such as Colorzilla and WAVE, you can test your color scheme and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that your website is accessible to all. Don’t forget to regularly test your website for accessibility to continue providing an inclusive user experience for everyone.

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