Color Blind Accessibility Manifesto

Federico Monaco - Credit: Twitter

Color Blind Accessibility Manifesto
Communications of the ACM, August 2022, Vol. 65 No. 8, Page 7
Cerf’s up
By Federico Monaco

“A study conducted in 2021 by Web Accessibility In Mind illustrated that 83% of the Internet’s top one million homepages failed to meet minimum color contrast requirements. That means about 860,000 of the most visited pages on the Internet aren’t designed with people with Color Vision Deficiency in mind.”


Color plays a very important role within our society, think about the meaning that some colors have assumed over time: red to identify danger and green to convey a positive outcome. Although society has decided to exploit color for communication, there are 350 million people around the world for whom this does not work. The degree of their disability can vary considerably up to complete blindness, leading them to live reality in grayscale. When the color-blind community interfaces with the digital world, it is not uncommon for them to encounter serious accessibility problems and in some cases, forces them to leave the platform or website.

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About the Author:

Guest writer Federico Monaco is a color blind designer and creator of the Colorblind Accessibility Manifesto.

See also:

  • Colour Blindness Awareness:
    We are a non-profit organisation and although we are based in the UK we offer help and advice worldwide.Fundamental to the support we provide to colour blind people is our commitment to ensure the needs of colour blind children are not overlooked. Our website includes specific sections for families and guidance for those working in the education sector, providing resources such as factsheets, videos and training for teachers and schools.In sport we are world leaders. We created the first ever guidance for colour blindness in any sport for UEFA /the English Football Association in 2017. We also worked closely with World Rugby to deliver their guidance on colour blindness in 2021. We advise and provide guidance for the regulation of stadium safety and security, including undertaking audits of many of the most high profile stadiums throughout Europe. We are also a founding partner of the EU Sport funded project, Tackling Colour Blindness in Sport (TACBIS), established to confirm the prevalence of colour blindness in football players at different levels of the game, identify barriers to progression and inform future policies.For businesses and professionals committed to social responsibility and inclusion for their employees and customers, we offer consultancy advice across numerous different sectors. See our Business section for more information.
  • The WebAIM Million WAVE accessibility engine, 2022. The 2023 report on the accessibility of the top 1,000,000 home pages.
  • Colorblind Accessibility Manifesto:
  1. Start with “Why?”
    Before designing a website, or even making a small change to an existing one, ask if your design choices consider the needs of people with color blindness. Changing the button color on your website may seem insignificant, but it could make that website inaccessible to nearly 8% of men and 0.4% of women who have color blindness.
  2. Don’t communicate only with colors
    Can color really be enough to communicate your message? Color can be one element of a much larger picture, but don’t rely on color to serve as the only element of distinction.
  3. Design with shapes
    Color-blind people can discern the difference between shapes far more easily than between colors. When you design with shapes, you won’t cause unnecessary additional effort for the people who visit your website.
  4. Choose the right copy
    Absolutely avoid identifying tasks or requests to the user only through color. Include other distinguishing characteristics like shape or size.
  5. Test your designs in black and white
    Switching the UI to black and white helps you evaluate the composition and the usability of your designs. Without the meaning provided by color, is your UI still working? Can you understand the meaning of every button?
  6. Rethink button states
    Color alone does not convey information for everyone. Use shapes and icons that indicate a button’s function.
  7. Use contrast
    Don’t default to using green and red to communicate things like product availability or pass/fail. Using icons, text, and high contrast colors such as blue and red will help many (but not all) people with color blindness.
  8. The smaller the item, the bigger the problems
    Relying on small, colored elements to signal important information, like updates or status, creates a huge barrier for color-blind people.
  9. Less fancy, more usable
    Dear data visualization designer, stop using hundreds of shades to present your data infographics. About 350 million users cannot benefit from it.
  10. More than you think
    Although it may seem that color blind people are few, there are actually 350 million. 350 million people you’re closing the door on when you don’t make your site accessible.