Accessibility and digital signs – Part 2 Typography

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As designers it is important to know who we are designing for. Who is our audience? More importantly, who is our client’s audience?

Accessibility and digital signs – Designing digital signs for everyone

PART 2: Typography

As designers it is important to know who we are designing for. Who is our audience? More importantly, who is our client’s audience? When you think about typography and accessibility, think about what it can give to a person with a disability, whether they are visually impaired, dyslexic, or any other disability, and how you can use your design skills to make your design look better. accessible.

WHICH POLICY TO USE? KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE IS KEY

There really is only one rule when selecting a typeface to use – know your audience. If you have a branding guide, someone figured out which font you should use, and they did that by researching your brand’s audience and messaging and figuring out which font best matches your brand. your audience. So stick to the font of your style guide.

If you are able to select a font or try to figure out which font to use, then where do you start? The ADA does not offer a list of compliant fonts, but rather offers guidelines. Fonts used in panels should be sans serif, with limited styles – no italics or slashes. Handwritten and decorative fonts are also not recommended.

Decorative fonts can be fun, and they can be great to use in advertisements for events or products – again, know your audience. If you are creating a sign that communicates information to the public, such as directions, orientation, regulations, etc., it is best to choose a font that meets accessibility requirements.

WHAT MAKES A POLICE ACCESSIBLE? IT’S MORE THAN A TYPE

You’ve probably heard this advice before (we said it before, actually) – when designing for accessibility, it’s best to use a sans-serif font. And that’s good advice. ADA standards state that signs intended for the public must use a sans serif font. But what makes sans serif fonts more accessible? And are all serif fonts equal when it comes to accessibility?

RECOGNITION OF INDIVIDUAL CHARACTERS

It’s not as simple as choosing a sans serif font over a serif font. This is important, but choosing the right sans serif font helps. The design of the characters of a typeface goes a long way in determining the accessibility of a font.

Also avoid typefaces that use mirror opposites for certain characters – lowercase letters d and b tend to mirror, as do lowercase letters p and q. Fonts that have distinctive characteristics in these letters are more accessible.

ELEVATORS AND DESCENDERS AND WHY THEY ARE IMPORTANT

If you’re a typography geek, you know what ascenders and descendants are. But if you’re not, ascenders are the parts of lowercase letters that extend beyond the x-height of a font. Descendants are parts of characters that descend below the baseline.

For people with disabilities, some letters can be confusing. Properly designed characters with prominent ascenders and descendants facilitate readability, as they help make their characters easily identifiable. Selecting a font family with distinct ascenders and descendants is a great place to start.

KERNING FOR ACCESSIBILITY – ADJUSTING THE SPACE BETWEEN

We can’t talk about the importance of a unique character design without also talking about the space between letters in a font. Kerning is the space between your letters and, just like uniquely designed typefaces, can go a long way towards making your design legible.

Tight kerning usually results in less readability. Letters lose their uniqueness and separate letter shapes become more difficult to visualize and distinguish. In extreme examples, like the one above, non-disabled people would see reduced readability.

Font designers spend a lot of time designing their characters, but when choosing a font, check the natural spacing between letters and see how certain letters naturally align with each other.

LINE HEIGHT AND WIDTH

In addition to the space between letters being important, the space between lines in a paragraph is also important. Try to use line spacing that is at least 1.5 times the font size. Although text paragraphs are not common in most digital signage applications, they do exist, especially in news feeds and certain types of advertisements. Also, try to keep the width of your lines between 40 and 55 characters when layout.

View the Typography Infographic PDF!


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