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Making Charts Accessible

InDesign Magazine Issue 129: RGB vs. CMYKThis article appeared in Issue 129 of InDesign Magazine.

Simple techniques to ensure your charts can be understood by readers with visual impairments.

Creating accessible files (what is often called “508-compliant in the U.S.) is a challenge even with the simplest of documents consisting mostly of text—but when you start adding data and charts, the process gets complicated fast. The best advice I was ever given regarding 508 compliance is that ultimately it is a best faith effort. And especially when it comes to charts, logic and common sense play a much bigger role than any particular rules that determine whether something is or is not accessible.

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  • Dax Castro says:

    Great article! So hard to cover everything in one article. I have started using more direct labeling to avoid being forced to use patterned fills in doughnut (pie) charts. In addition, for lines graphs I have started introducing different data point shapes (square, circle, triangle) as a way to meet WCAG success criteria 1.4.1: Use of Color without having to change the stroke of the lines altogether. Great content Nolan!

    • Nolan Haims says:

      Thanks, Dax! I generally hate patterned fills (from a design perspective), so it’s good to know you think direct labels are a good alternative. I also always try to direct labels lines in line charts–do you think you still need marker shapes on top of that? Does it depend on how complicated and overlapping the lines might be?

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