“Accessibility is not for me - I can see OK”. This is the general attitude of the population, including web designers and writers.
Good web design is not an ‘us or them’ scenario. Making your website more user-friendly, especially for the visually impaired, usually ensures a much more pleasant experience for all. The little changes that you might make, font, color combinations, size, etc. make it better for everyone.
At ReadPal we’ve tried to quantify this. Reading comfort is subjective and hard to measure. So to put an actual figure on it we used reading-speed as a proxy. It stands to reason that simple changes that enable you to read the same text faster means that you read it more easily and comfortably.
We found that people can read up to twice as fast if the text is presented in the most eye-friendly way. We took a Microsoft standard, Time New Roman font, size 10 , one column across the screen and compared people’s reading speed to their favorite ReadPal mode. The results were dramatic. And this was with people with apparently ‘normal’ sight.
We recommend that you try it yourself. Use a long text as the eye tires as you go on. Compare the Microsoft standard format with your favourite from ReadPal. (Use the double column mode if you are new to ReadPal for this test - but the more experienced will be able to get even better results with the other modes).
Interestingly, the changes that allow ‘normal’-sighted people to read faster are the exact changes that allow the visually-impaired to read your text too. Happy co-incidence. So when you think of accessibility you make life better for us all.
To take the test just download ReadPal. (It is free to the consumer).
Lastly, Steve Krug would be one of my heroes on Web-design. Jeffrey Zeldman wrote an excellent blog on him that is well worth visiting.