Typographic accessibility in more detail

The three pillars of accessibility - emotional, functional and technical - can be applied to any output whether that is a product or a service. Each industry and sector will have its own specific definitions relevant to their output. The following paragraphs describe each accessibility pillar in the context of typography and typefaces.

Using symbols that visualize language the purpose of writing is to communicate thought, across geography and time. Typography is a formalised and mechanised means of writing and still serves the purpose of transmitting an author’s thought to others without distraction to the reader. The typeface is the…


This title image shows a few letters and symbols tumbling down from the top. It has no meaning and serves a decorative function only.
This title image shows a few letters and symbols tumbling down from the top. It has no meaning and serves a decorative function only.

Functional accessibility in typography includes legibility and readability among other things, and often the two terms are applied interchangeably. It is important to have a clear definition of what each does to be able to identify a potential accessibility hurdle. A great variety of factors can of course affect the legibility of a typeface and the readability of a typographic setting. For avoidance of misunderstanding, the below descriptions of legibility and readability are based on neuroscientific definitions and are used for objective testing.

Legibility is the definition of how quickly and accurately a reader can recognise a character in any…


The three pillars of accessibility

Accessibility means different things to different people but accessibility is not just a single thing. We can broadly divide it into three pillars: emotional, functional and technical. Each pillar must be accessible in itself but all must be considered together. We also have to accept that accessibility can never be perfect but it can be optimal.

The principle of the three pillars of accessibility can be applied to any type of work and is not limited to a specific industry. This is a guide to better understand the role of each: Emotional accessibility is the first impression a person experiences…


“For our members, by our members” is the driver of the changes that the board of ATypI has started to set in motion. We are working to transform the Association so that it is more relevant to aspiring and practising designers in all matters relating to type and typography. We want ATypI to facilitate students and professionals to exchange information, teach skills and transfer knowledge to each other, irrespective of where our members live. Some first steps have already been announced at the most recent ATypI conference in Antwerp: we have introduced a flat $15 annual membership fee; we have…

Bruno Maag

Bruno Maag is an expert typographer with over forty years of expertise in his field. He founded Dalton Maag Ltd, the world’s leading studio for typeface design.

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