Thursday, December 21, 2006

visually appealing skins for the blind

Well, visually appealing skins for the color blind to be more accurate. According to an August 2000 article by Chuck Newman, approximately 1 in 12 (or about 8%) of the visitors to your website may be suffering from one form of color blindness or another. For those of us that do not suffer from any form of color blindness, understanding what our sites look like through their eyes can be an extremely challenging (and often overlooked) task. Telerik's controls go a long way to make our site's accessible to most of our visitors. Half of telerik's 18 r.a.d.controls for ASP.NET offer out of the box Section 508 compliance at a W3C "AA" or "AAA" level (the other half offers at least "A" level support). The W3C sets forth guidelines that encourage developers to create designs that don't rely on color alone, but recognizing the usability problems caused by color is difficult (especially when were caught up in using all of the great looking (to non-colorblind users) telerik skins). Fortunately, there is a tool that allows non-colorblind developers to see through colorblind eyes. The Colorblind Filter by Wickline is a free, web-based tool that will process any URL you provide and spit out a colorblind variant of the page. While the color representations may be rough, they do enable developers and designers to quickly recognize possible color problems. I ran a number of telerik skins through the Filter and most of them proved remarkably usable to all forms of colorblindness. Telerik has done a good job maintaining high contrast in their controls, meaning that even with distorted colors their controls remain usable. If you've created a custom skin, though, you should definitely run it through the Colorblind Filter and make sure it's accessible to all of your users. You may be surprised at how your site looks through someone else's eyes.