Windows High Contrast and Background Images | Terrill Thompson

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Windows High Contrast and Background Images

Posted on December 29, 2011 by Terrill

In 2012, I resolve to think more broadly about who visits my websites. One group of users that often gets slighted, even by designers who are otherwise accessibility-conscious, is individuals who have difficulty perceiving or processing dark text on a light background. All major desktop operating systems, and some mobile operating systems, include optional high contrast color schemes that invert colors or remove color altogether. These color schemes apply across all applications on the device, including web browsers.

One would think this wouldn’t present any major problems for web designers. If a web page is created with good contrast between foreground and background, there will still be good contrast when colors are reversed.

The problem, however, is background images. When users enable high contrast mode in Windows, CSS background images are no longer displayed. This isn’t a problem in Mac OS X, but as far as I know this has always been an issue in Windows. It certainly is true in Windows 7 and Vista. The implications for designers?

Don’t use CSS background images to deliver content.

The following example is a screen shot of [...]

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