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Academic Poster Resources: Accessibility

Considerations

Yale is committed to “the free exchange of ideas in an ethical, interdependent, and diverse community.” That diversity includes all people regardless of ability or disability. Although there are no absolute answers or guidelines for accessibility that will guarantee equal access for everyone, below are several accessibility considerations to take into account when designing academic posters.

Colors

  • Ensure sufficient contrast between the text and the background using a tool such as Colour Contrast Analyser or WebAIM Contrast Checker.

  • Avoid relying solely on color to convey meaning. Instead, use patterns or shading in addition to color on charts, graphs, illustrations, and maps where color differences are intended to convey information.

Fonts

  • Recommended: Sans-serif fonts such as Arial, Gill Sans, Helvetica, and Verdana 

  • Alternative: Slab serif fonts such as Rockwell and Courier can be used for headings.

  • Avoid serif fonts such as Times New Roman and Garamond, which are less legible.

Text size: bigger is better!

  • Main title: 72 point (minimum) - 158 point (ideal)

  • Section headings: 42 point (minimum) - 56 point (ideal)

  • Body text: 24 point (minimum) - 36 point (ideal)

  • Captions: 18 point (minimum) - 24 point (ideal)

Text spacing

  • Alignment: Avoid “fully justified” text which changes the space between letters and makes text harder to read. For English and other languages that are read from left to right, use “left justified” (a.k.a “left flush” or “left aligned”) text.

  • Line spacing (“line spacing” or “line height”): Use 1.2 to 2.0 line spacing (1.4 or 1.5 ideal) for poster body text. Use line spacing of at least 2.0 between paragraphs.

Digital formats

​If the poster will be available in a digital format (e.g., as a PDF posted on a website) it is important to ensure that the poster is accessible to people using screen readers.

  • Provide alt text and/or descriptive captions for images, figures, and charts.

  • Define reading order for blocks of text and other poster elements: in PowerPoint, go to Arrange → Selection Pane → Drag items into the correct order (note that screen reader will read from bottom to top).

  • PowerPoint has a built in accessibility checker that will highlight issues and tell you how to fix them: Tools → Check Accessibility → Inspection Results

  • If exporting to PDF format, be sure to “Save to PDF” or “Save as Adobe PDF” (not “Print to PDF”).

Further Readings & Tools

American Public Health Association (APHA) guidelines for Accessible Poster Presentations

The APHA recommends the use of poster templates like Mike Morrison’s that use less text and are easier to use for someone with visual impairments. This site also makes some recommendations about fonts, font size, line spacing, images, and more.

Guidelines for Creating Accessible Printed Posters 

More detailed guidelines for “creating the most accessible poster presentations possible”

Coloring for Colorblindness (David Nichols)

A great place to start your reading if you’re not sure what color choices on a poster have to do with accessibility.

Colour Contrast Analyser

Downloadable application that helps you determine the legibility of text and the contrast of visual elements, such as graphical controls and visual indicators.

WebAIM Contrast Checker

Another free online tool that can help you ensure that text will be readable.

Yale Web Accessibility - Introduction to Word Documents, PDFs, and PowerPoints training slides

If your poster will be available in a digital format as a PowerPoint slide or PDF, review these tips and tricks about how to ensure that your poster is accessible to those using screen readers. Particularly important for academic posters are slides about alt text and reading order.

Yale Web Accessibility Best Practices for PDFs and Documents

More information, links, and resources about creating digitally accessible documents.