Graphic Design

IDEA

Student Corner

The Power of Colour: Bridging Accessibility in Communication

By Laura Joly on July 10, 2023

Share this article:

Various coloured pencils are in a row with a light blue background behind them.

Introducing a new dimension

In the realm of communication, there is a timeless emphasis on enhancing effectiveness through the art of message framing. This art involves structuring discussions to shape how issues are perceived and understood, ultimately influencing how people respond to calls to action. But what if we could take this concept further? By aligning message framing with colour associations, we can unlock a whole new level of power in our communications. Colour is a language of its own – one that we all speak, whether we realize it or not. It permeates every aspect of our lives and holds particular significance for professional communicators. So, let’s add this powerful tool to our communication toolbox.  

The role of colour in accessible communications

Now, you might wonder why should we bother with colour in communication if it may not be accessible to everyone. After all, colours carry cultural and psychological meanings deeply embedded in our minds. Colour can influence our mood, emotions and even physical strength.  When we encounter colours, they communicate with us on an unconscious level, influencing our behaviour. However, it would be ignorant to assume that individuals who cannot see colours cannot appreciate their meaning. Linguistic communication has long been recognized as a means for the blind to form connections and derive meaning from colours, much like everyone else. As professional communicators, by neglecting to use colours in an accessible manner, we might inadvertently limit our reach and exclude individuals with vision impairments or colour deficiencies.

Various coloured pencils form a circle with the sharpened points.

Creating accessible communications with colours

Fortunately, there are ways to incorporate colour in our communications that remain accessible and effective. Here are two approaches to consider:

Storytelling 

In order to succeed in the modern business world, it is imperative to establish a profound connection with our audiences, evoking emotions and engaging them in meaningful ways. This is where the art of brand storytelling becomes invaluable. By seamlessly incorporating colour psychology into our narratives, we can take our communication strategies to new heights. By subtly mentioning colours without being overtly explicit or by crafting vivid descriptions that prompt readers to infer them, our texts will evoke heightened emotions like never before.

Colour psychology in ALT text

Alt text, also known as alternative text, is a fundamental component of accessibility, providing descriptions of images for users with sight loss. Alt text ensures that individuals who cannot see images on their screens can still comprehend the content being conveyed. When crafting alt text, the specifics may vary depending on the visual, the creator, and the context. However, colour psychology can still play a vital role regardless of these variations. Describing images and visuals by their colours can play a significant role in the portrayal of your communication. Colour associations extend beyond contextual differences and retain their inherent psychological impact. While the portrayal of colours may differ, the underlying principles of colour psychology continue to shape perception and behaviour.

Recognizing the power of colour in accessibility 

Colour is often overlooked when considering accessibility. Yet, as we have seen throughout this article, colour remains a potent tool, even when it is not visually perceived. By harnessing the language of colour and utilizing it in an accessible manner, we can bridge gaps in communication and create more inclusive experiences for all.

You may also enjoy...

Read more great articles like this, or return to the main articles page…

All Articles

The Challenges of Accessing Information and Communication

By Ashley Nemeth on September 18, 2023

There are times when being a part of a niche group makes you feel special, and it is fun. Then, sometimes, you feel like you are fighting an uphill battle…

The Challenges of Accessing Information and Communication - Read Post
A blind woman sits at a desk with a magazine open in front of her. Her white cane rests on the wall behind her.

PR on TV: They’re A Professional?

By Felicia Empey on September 25, 2023

Way back in the day, before becoming a communications professional, I wanted to work at a museum. I had two summer internships at a sports museum, which was a great…

PR on TV: They’re A Professional? - Read Post
On a mustard yellow background, there are four actresses who play PR and communications people on TV.

When I Grow Up, I Want To…?

By Ally Medeiros on September 4, 2023

The mornings are cooling down, pencils are on sale in bulk, and I went to the CNE, so I know summer is over. Even when I’m well into my career,…

When I Grow Up, I Want To…? - Read Post
Ally stands with her hands on her hips in between two plants.