Color Contrast

The Universal Design Toolkit

The Universal Design Toolkit is a set of simple principles to apply to your course materials that allows instructors to provide content that works for everyone. There are practices to follow for Documents and Presentations; Audio and Video; and Utilities and Tools. Color Contrast is one of the principles in the toolkit.

Color Contrast

A strong color contrast between text and background on every document, presentation and Canvas page ensures that text can be read by all students in your courses. If you are not sure whether your text and background colors have adequate contrast, you can compare the two colors using a color accessibility checker. Below you will find more tips to help you improve the color contrast of your documents and presentations:

Color Contrast Best Practices

  • Make sure your colors have strong contrasts between them. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) specify different contrast ratios depending on the size and weight of the font text, 3:1 for normal text less than 14 points, or 4.5:1 for 14-point bold or 18-point non-bold text.
  • Never use color alone to show emphasis; always combine color plus boldface or font size to communicate important information. Students with color blindness or low vision may not be able to distinguish color alone.
  • Do not use blue underlined text for color contrast as blue underlined text can be confused for hyperlinks.
  • For non-text graphics, use color plus shape, color plus size, color plus texture or pattern to visually distinguish information differences.
    Graphic with Color Contrast Added
  • Use a color contrast checker to ensure you have the correct ratio of brightness to darkness as described by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) for specific different contrast ratios depending on the size and weight of the font text.


Support Options

  1. Contact an Instructional Design Partner to assist you making instructional materials are usable by as many people as possible, regardless of disability or assistive technology in your course. Access is the responsibility of instructors creating and teaching courses. 
  2. To request technical support, submit a Technology Service Desk email to start a ticket. 


Article ID: 105008
Thu 4/9/20 2:33 PM
Tue 6/23/20 1:35 PM