The Importance of Typography in Mobile App Accessibility
04 May 2021
Creating and designing accessible content for your app means more than just stringing words together. Even the most well-written content is useless if it’s not presented in a way that is legible and appealing to all users. In this article, we’re discussing why you should pay particular attention to your typography when building a mobile app that’s accessible to all.
What is typography?
Typography is the art and science of arranging and displaying text in a way that delivers the message legibly and clearly to the user.
Choosing the right font is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when creating an accessible app. Although you can (and you should) implement screen readers to help blind or visually impaired users decipher text, picking fonts that are easy to read will benefit more users from the outset.
However, it's not always easy to decide which fonts are best for making your app’s content accessible, so we have put together some suggestions:
- Sans-serif fonts – Arial, Calibri, Century Gothic, Helvetica, and Verdana
- Serif fonts – Times New Roman and Georgia
- Slab serif fonts – Arvo, Museo Slab, and Rockwell
- Fonts designed for dyslexic and visually impaired readers – Lexie Readable, Read Regular, and Tiresias.
On the other hand, you should avoid using fancy, decorative, overly stylised, or handwritten fonts, which may look nice but can be difficult to read even for users without visual impairments or reading disabilities.
Font Size & Styling
Once you’ve picked out a suitable font, the next step is to consider how it will actually be styled in the app whilst making sure the typography remains accessible.
Some font sizes and styling can be inaccessible for people with disabilities. For instance, some screen readers don’t inform blind users when text is bolded or italicised, making these styles meaningless for them. Likewise, users with low vision may not be able to distinguish these styles if they don’t stand out enough, or if the text is too small.
Note: Even if your app has the ‘perfect’ font and font size, visually impaired users or users with cognitive, language, or learning disabilities may still struggle to process the text. That’s why one of our apps, Noted gives users the option to choose from a selection of fonts, including a dyslexia-friendly font, plus the ability to adjust font size on iOS.
To help you maximise accessibility, here are some suggestions for how to best display text in your app:
- Present text as text rather than as part of an image or other graphic, so screen readers can read it out.
- Limit the use of reds and greens and make sure there’s a high contrast between text and background colour, to make text more readable for colour-blind users.
- Refrain from using too many fonts to improve accessibility and legibility, and avoid confusion.
Create Accessible Content for Your App
Creating accessible content is only one of several considerations for mobile app accessibility. Check out all other elements that make an app truly accessible for everyone.