Contrast and accessibility

(Stephanie Daugherty) #1

The dark theme trial on meta made me realize some things that had been bothering me about the user interface of Discourse, and since those things aren’t specific to the dark theme, I figured it warranted a separate discussion before it gets buried.

The extent to which Discourse uses low-contrast UI elements to reduce clutter is actually a serious accessibility problem. People with mild to moderate vision impairment generally have poorer contrast sensitivity, but some people with 20/20 vision also have issues.

This is compounded by the fact that many of the more obvious coping strategies, like disabling the stylesheet, completely and utterly break the site, and by the fact that users with mild impairments may not realize their condition, and rarely have access to (or need for) more robust assistive technologies as are used by people with severe or complete vision impairment.

Anyway, getting the discussion started about this, in hopes that I can raise awareness, and hopefully work create a better experience for users with disabilities.

Accessibility: Color contrast
(Michael Downey) #2

Thanks for revisiting this. I’ve launched several topics over the past couple years related to contrast/size and WCAG compliance, and overuse of images. I hope we continually improve on these dimensions, so let’s keep the conversation alive as a first step!

(Stephanie Daugherty) #3

Would be nice to gather those together. I usually don’t think of myself as having a disability, but I’m blind in one eye, and 20/30 in the other, and as I’ve gotten older, some things are harder and harder to make out.

I think the main point to reiterate to designers is what is subtle or subdued to you will often be illegible or invisible to others.

(Stephanie Daugherty) #4

Testing with system colors forced is helpful too. Discourse looks horrible that way, but at least we’re doing better than Facebook.

By comparison , at least at first glance, everything seems to work OK in Discourse.

Edit: Well, one issue. The indicator for notifications doesn’t change with system colors forced.

(Stephanie Daugherty) #5

Disabling stylesheet, as you’d expect, though, completely breaks things. Progressive enhancement, or at least graceful degradation would be nice there, since this can help with assistive technologies. This could go hand in hand with the proposed basic HTML view mentioned in Discourse will be dropping IE9 support in 2016

(I don’t really expect disabling to be a supported case, I just mentioned it because its something a user might try to get over an accessibility problem with a site.)

(Michael Downey) #6

One such topic here:

Accessibility audit and shepherd for making improvements

I’m interested in doing as much as I can to make my Discourse instance as accessible as possible. I’ve made some minor tweaks, but I’d be interested to hear your opinion on what I could do better for visually impaired users @sdaugherty (if you have the time and inclination).