Re: typeface colors and contrast: how light is too light?

Subject: Re: typeface colors and contrast: how light is too light?
From: Jean Hollis Weber <jean05 -at- jeanweber -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Sun, 25 May 2008 16:58:27 +1000

Pamela Denchfield asked,

> Where can I find out about ideal contrast levels for type?
> How light is too light?

I think that very much depends on the person. Even if there is a
"norm," a lot of people are going to be outside the norm.

Low-contrast type can be an accessibility issue for people who, like
me, have poor contrast vision (worse in one eye than the other, but
not good in either). For some people, like me, this appears to be an
issue of ageing eyes. Others, of course, have poor vision earlier in
life. I suspect there are a lot of us, and that the number will
increase as the population ages.

Anecdote time... I recall my mother, at the age of about 60,
complaining on a visit to my house about how dark (poorly lighted) my
kitchen was. I couldn't figure out what she was carrying on about: to
me, it was quite brightly lit. Fast forward 20 years and I began
wondering why my kitchen was becoming so dark and poorly lit... yes,
my eyes were changing as I aged, and my contrast vision was going.
Cataract surgery helped a lot, but I can no longer read pale type on
paper (except when very strongly lit) or on screen. I've got my
monitor adjusted for optimum viewing for me, but some websites and
help systems are very difficult to use (so mostly I don't use the
problem ones).

Aside: I find the emphasis on providing for blind people (an important
thing to do) often has the unfortunate side-effect of too easily
forgetting that "visually impaired" includes a wide range of vision
problems. Poor contast vision is only one of them.

--Jean
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