Accessible Fonts: A Guide To Design Inclusive Content


March 8th, 2024, posted in learning
by David Gevorkian

In a vast sea of fonts, selecting the right one for your website can be overwhelming. However, the key is prioritizing accessibility. Go for fonts that cater to diverse abilities, ensuring clarity for everyone, including those with visual impairments or reading challenges. This guide explores the fundamentals of font accessibility, outlines best practices, and provides a curated list of fonts ideal for making your designs more accessible.


What Are Accessible Fonts?

Accessible fonts break the boundaries of disability — they ensure clarity and comprehension for all users. It is not just about accommodating those with specific needs; it is about enhancing the experience for all users. This is because some fonts pose challenges for many people, even if they don't have a low vision.

The key to accessible fonts is simplicity. They don't make reading harder, slow you down, confuse letters, or distract you with unnecessary decorations. It is about keeping it clear and straightforward for everyone.


The Impact of Font Choices on Inclusivity

The fonts you choose have a significant influence on inclusivity. Fonts shape the accessibility of your content, directly impacting diverse audiences. Going for inclusive fonts is not just a design preference but a commitment to ensuring your message is understood by everyone.

Besides, font choices play a pivotal role in dismantling barriers. Complex fonts can hinder those with visual impairments or reading difficulties, creating exclusionary hurdles. In contrast, selecting fonts that foster simplicity and clarity extends an invitation to all, breaking down these barriers and facilitating a seamless reading experience.

Your font decisions are more than a style statement; they echo a fundamental principle—information should be universally accessible. When you embrace fonts that promote clarity, you contribute to a digital landscape where everyone, regardless of abilities, can engage effortlessly with your content.



Web Content Accessibility Guidelines for Fonts

Here are some of the basic guidelines set by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to help you comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements:



For traditional computer monitors, a body text size of 12pt (=16px) is generally recommended, with flexibility based on your audience. Avoid default fonts smaller than 9pt (=12px), as they may become illegible on certain platforms. You should also ensure that the text can be zoomed 200%. The right size provides a balance, making content easily readable for users with visual impairments. It eliminates the need for manual zooming or assistive tools. This is essential for an inclusive browsing experience for all.



Spacing is an important part of WCAG compliance. Adequate room between letters and lines prevents overlap, ensuring optimal word readability. WCAG extends its requirements to text modification, allowing individuals with disabilities to increase spacing for improved readability. You should ensure that words remain visible and unobstructed when users modify page text through their browser.

In addition, WCAG suggests a minimum spacing of 1.5 times the font size. Sufficient spacing improves readability, preventing text from appearing cramped and aiding users who may struggle with dense, tightly packed content. This consideration is particularly beneficial for individuals with cognitive or visual challenges. It improves comprehension and overall accessibility.


Color Contrast

Color contrast is a cornerstone of WCAG compliance, as it enhances accessibility. The careful selection of colors ensures that content is easily discernible for all users. Prioritize rational contrast between text and background to accommodate individuals with visual impairments. Choose color combinations that meet accessibility standards as they ensure readability and comprehension.

Keep in mind that the importance of maintaining color contrast does not end on your website but also in various information-sharing avenues. This includes ensuring accessible PDF documents, used widely for information sharing. The principle of inclusivity also applies to other media on your website for communication with your target audience, such as images, charts, and emails.



Text with Graphics

The use of text within images by some web designers poses a distinct accessibility challenge. While standard text allows for adjustments in size, spacing, and color without compromising overall readability, text within images lacks such adaptability. When enlarged, it can become pixelated and challenging to read, especially for users with visual disabilities.

According to WCAG guidelines, if the same presentation can be achieved using text alone, it is advisable to avoid using an image to present that text. This underscores the importance of prioritizing text formats that are flexible and cater to a diverse audience.


Best Fonts for Web Accessibility

While the effectiveness of accessible design hinges on how fonts are employed, there are key fonts that strike a balance between versatility and accessibility across various design types, encompassing both serif and sans-serif options.

Our top picks include;

  • Helvetica
  • Calibri
  • Arial
  • Times New Roman
  • Tahoma
  • Museo Slab
  • Source Sans Pro
  • Rockwell
  • Roboto Slab

These fonts excel in meeting accessibility concerns and offer readability across different contexts.

A crucial consideration is avoiding fonts with ambiguous shapes, such as characters that could be mistaken for others (e.g., uppercase I, number 1, and lowercase L). Raleway, though aesthetically pleasing, may pose challenges for easy reading due to its distinctive W shape, particularly in smaller applications.



As much as incorporating accessible fonts into your website demands extra effort, it stands as a pivotal step in the web design process. You will create a site that caters to all users, expands your customer base, and safeguards against potential legal challenges. The investment in accessibility enhances user experience and contributes to a more inclusive and legally resilient online presence.

About the author

David Gevorkian

David started Be Accessible because of his passion for website accessibility and ADA compliance. He spent much of his career working for financial institutions creating websites and mobile applications. He earned his Master’s in Business Administration from Salve Regina University in Rhode Island. David is an advocate for creating web interfaces usable by all people. He enjoys recording music and playing soccer with friends.

See more articles by David Gevorkian