Inclusive Design Choosing Accessible Fonts For a Fully ADA-Compliant Website

Inclusive Design Choosing Accessible Fonts For a Fully ADA-Compliant Website

Published: June 6, 2023

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    According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the disabled community should be able to access most business websites and online documents.
    So to create an accessible design, your web content should be as consumable as possible for those with blindness, visual impairments, and other disabilities. Lots go into accessibility testing, right from the colors to the fonts you use for your web copy.
    And it’s okay if you get confused reading the many accessibility guidelines. It is where and why people like us at ADA Site Compliance help. Our team of professionals will suggest the most- implementing accessible fonts, font styles, and families to use on your website and online documents.

    Why fonts are so important for web accessibility

    Fonts are essential for web accessibility as most information on your website, app, and online documents is communicated through text. And with more than 32 million Americans having vision impairments, you risk losing out on tapping this potential without the proper fonts.

    With this number swelling with the American population growing older and experiencing more age and disease-related issues, you lose out on a massive market with an inaccessible website. There’s also the market sector with learning difficulties like dyslexia that form part of this audience.

    In addition to reaching out to this significant section of the population, an accessible website also helps avoid violating any accessibility standards set by US law. Inaccessible fonts and sites can trigger multiple legal and financial penalties like fines, lawsuits, and enforcement actions.

    Web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) and ADA

    ADA - Americans with disabilities act

    There are no strict rules if fonts are accessible or inaccessible. The Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act do not have any specific requirements for selecting accessible website fonts.

    Its accessibility standards, like WCAG, give a better perspective on the perfect fonts that provide users with an inclusive font-accessible website experience.

    A complete guide for choosing accessible fonts

    There are multiple factors to consider while selecting accessible fonts for your website. They include font size, type, spacing, and even letter spacing. So here is a list of features to look out for to help ensure you select the right best fonts for accessibility too.

    Recognizing ADA-compliant fonts

    Web content accessibility guidelines have a few rules to follow to ensure ADA-compliant fonts:

    • Avoid using fonts below 12 px, and use 16 px as a starting point.
    • Users should be able to make text 200% larger on websites and other web designs without assistive technology.
    • Sans serif fonts are generally recommended as they offer higher readability than serif fonts with block-like and less decorative fonts.
    • Serif fonts generally have decorative top and bottom edges called ‘serifs’ resembling little feet. And it’s these feet that make these fonts less readable.

    Generally, a mix of sans-serif and sans-serif font creates a more appealing design.

    Color contrast

    Accessibility laws don’t prohibit using any specific colors or color combinations for web text. Instead, color contrast is maintained to measure accessibility compliance.

    Color contrast is the contrast between text and background colors. Sufficient contrast makes reading content easier for everyone, while too much or too little contrast causes problems.

    The correct font color contrast helps learners distinguish text and images. Besides, good color contrast helps reduce cognitive strain and confusion and makes designs easier to understand. Poor color contrast only makes it hard and impossible to read text.

    Accessible Font Color Contrast Example

    The default web content color contrast is black text on a white background. However, many websites use different combinations for branding and style reasons. WCAG guidelines, however, clearly state these preferred contrast levels for optimal web accessibility:

    • Large-scale text, like headings. should have a minimum contrast ratio of 3:1.
    • Other text besides headings should maintain a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1.
    • There are no contrast requirements for any text that forms part of a logo or brand
    • There are no contrast requirements for text that are part of decorative interfaces

    Typeface readability

    It’s human nature to scan text and understand characters. Your users thus understand the text without any visual or mental memory. Only when a user comes across something unfamiliar that it creates an obstacle in processing to prevent optimal reading. This is why typeface readability is essential for readers to read your content effortlessly and quickly.

    How to increase web font accessibility

    It is not possible to change a font’s properties. However, increasing the text size helps increase accessibility as the letters are more distinct. Besides, how information is presented on your website adds or detracts from a design’s accessibility.

    For example, it is better to:

    • Use short and simple sentences with bulleted lists
    • Avoid unnecessary clutter like opposite color palettes
    • Avoid small type font
    • Use more of easy to interpret icons
    • Organize text into sections with a bold and easy-to-read heading

    Best and top accessible fonts – Sans or Sans serif fonts?

    There is no need to invest in custom fonts for website accessibility. Standard and widely available fonts like Verdana, Times New Roman, and Arial are recommended choices. Slab and sans serif fonts, like Museo Slab and Rockwell, are accessible fonts more commonly used in headings than body text.

    It is better to choose accessible and common fonts your visitors’ devices will correctly display. And better to avoid using fonts with imposter letter shapes designed to be similar to other letter shapes.

    Best font size

    Sometimes the most accessible font will still be inaccessible to some visitors who require larger script fonts or smaller font sizes for optimal reading. The wrong-sized fonts will only lead to non-compliant content.

    Letting your website visitors increase or reduce the text size without zooming the entire page helps. Properly displaying your content across multiple devices like mobiles and screen readers increases accessibility.

    Font size measurements

    Four types of font measurement units are commonly used- em, root ems, pixels, and points. Of the four, it’s recommended to use relative units like percentages, rem, or em to define font sizes than absolute units like pixels or points.

    It is impossible to separately zoom in on fonts in pixels from the rest of the page in some browsers. However, fonts measured in points let users resize text appropriately across multiple devices and platforms.

    Font color

    Color is often used to impart meaning in website designs, which may make your content inaccessible. To increase website accessibility, WCAG recommends that the font color not be the only visual means of conveying information.

    It means:

    • Avoiding color differences to prompt user responses
    • Avoiding the use of hyperlinks in sentences
    • Listing items in the colorful text to show differences.

    Include alternate visual indicators for those with low color perception to interpret content in cases where you need to use font color to communicate information. This includes bolding, italicizing, or underlining the text to make them visually distinct from the surrounding text.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Here are a few frequently asked questions about the right fonts for web accessibility.

    • 1. Are all fonts ADA-compliant?

      Unfortunately, not all fonts are built to be easily found or for web accessibility. It is better to stick to using sans serif typefaces that are ADA- compliant and known for providing maximum web accessibility, like Times New Roman, Tahoma, and Cabri. Other accessible slap serif fonts you can use include Arvo Museo and Rockwell.

    • 2. What is the best accessible font for ADA compliance?

      The fonts used as the best means to make internet browsing easy are Times New Roman, Verdana, Cabri, Helvetica, and Tahoma. There are other slab serifs, such as Arvo Museo Slab or Rockwell.

    • 3. What font is required for an ADA website?

      The most common and accessible fonts for an ADA website are Tahoma, Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, and Times New Roman. Besides, Mac and Windows users can quickly read and correct these types. About font size, while 12 px is an acceptable size, 16 px is the preferred size.

    • 4. How do I choose a font for accessibility?

      The most accessible fonts are Tahoma, Helvetica, Arial, Verdana, and Times New Roman, and slab serif fonts like Rockwell and Arvo. There, however, are some factors and tips to consider while selecting specific fonts.

      • Use as few fonts in the content head and minimal fonts in the body.
      • While selecting colors, ensure the text color is in good contrast with the background color.
      • About size 10px or larger is recommended, and use bold and italics where required instead of depending too much on only colors.


    It does not matter why you are creating your content. The content may be for visual communication materials, your website, or online documents. Whatever the reason, you must create your design and make choices with your audience in mind.

    Ensure you have a design for accessibility, diversity, and inclusion by using accessible fonts that anyone can read. And if you find all of this overwhelming, there is no need to be overwhelmed.

    We at ADA Site Compliance are always ready to help ensure web compliance. We are the #1 source for all ADA website compliance work. Our team of accessibility experts will not only help with selecting your best fonts but will also help create an ADA-compliant website if need be.

    No doubt this will take some extra time and effort. However, it is well worth it as you end up with a compliant website that connects with maximum users. And most importantly, it helps avoid lawsuits and penalties you must pay for non-compliance.

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