Accessible Fonts

"Which fonts are accessible?" We get asked this question regularly. It may surprise you to know that there aren’t specific “accessible” fonts. Different people prefer different fonts, and that includes people with disabilities! That said, legibility is important, especially for people with low vision and people with reading disabilities such as dyslexia. Below are some general tips.

Choose fonts that are:

  • Simple (plain, straight, familiar)
  • Not too narrow or too wide
  • Not too thin or too thick

Fonts that meet the above criteria include:

  • Verdana
  • Tahoma
  • Calibri
  • Georgia
  • Arial
  • Helvetica

Avoid fonts that are overly ornate, as well as fonts with characters that are hard to distinguish from each other. (Try comparing the characters for l and 1, or 0 and O.) Additionally, avoid using more than one or two fonts for your document or website.

Font Style and Color

  • Only use underlines for hyperlinks.
  • Try to avoid using italicized text often, since it can be hard to read.
  • Avoid using bold and ALL CAPS for continuous blocks of text. (These styles can also be difficult to read.)
  • Use a text color that will provide sufficient color contrast between the text and the background.
  • Do not "justify" your text, which aligns both the left and right margins of text. This can add inconsistent spacing between words and make the text harder to read.
  • Provide ample white space between lines of text, between paragraphs, around headings, and in margins to improve readability.
  • Ensure that readers don't need to perceive the style or color of text in order to understand the meaning of the material. In other words, don’t ask students to “define the words that are in bold” or tell respondents that they have to "answer all questions in red".

Font Size

For content that is delivered digitally, users can generally change the font size themselves to meet their needs. That being said, it is best to avoid using font sizes smaller than 10pt or so in digital materials. Additionally, avoid using images of text, which cannot be magnified without degrading the quality of the image and the readability of the text. Whenever possible, use real digital text rather than images of text.

For printed materials, use at least a 12pt font. Larger fonts can be helpful for people with low vision.

April Challenges

Pick a document or publication from your department and assess the accessibility of the fonts used. Do they meet the guidelines for legibility outlined in this newsletter?

CU Digital Accessibility News

The Digital Accessibility Office is excited to welcome Rachel Busnardo to our team as our new Accessibility Training Specialist! Rachel joins us with a strong background in training and writing, and she is currently finishing up a Master’s Degree in Learning Design and Technology from CU Denver with an emphasis in adult learning.