University of West Florida

Academic Technology Center



The AskATC knowledge base has been created to answer your questions about designing, developing, implementing, and teaching online courses.

Need help with your course?

Contact Our Instructional Designers:

Cindy Mersereau:
Phone: 850-474-3291

June Watkins:
Phone: 850-474-3165

Lior Flum:
Phone: 850-473-7239

Colored Text

The use of colored text may create a barrier for people with vision problems as well as for those with cognitive disabilities.

  • On average, 25% of your students cannot distinguish reds, greens, or blues.
  • Students with dyslexia, ADHD, or cognitive impairments find multiple colors distracting or confusing.
  • Most students who use screen readers (JAWS) turn off the announce color feature as it interferes with the flow of the text.
    • e.g., JAWS: "Color: red. Please return to this page when you have finished the readings."

This does not mean you have to turn all images to black and white or remove all color. It does mean that color cannot be the only way to convey important information. It should also be used judiciously.

Color Blindness

Color blindness is actually a color vision deficit where missing pigments in the cones of the eye cause difficulty in distinguishing certain colors. Most color deficiency is red-green or blue-yellow. Very few people are unable to see any color. Color deficiencies can be hazardous, and for that reason people with vision deficits are excluded by law from certain occupations.

The links below will open images that replicate how people with various forms of color blindness would see the colors.

Cognitive Disabilities

This disability covers a broad range, however, for this topic we will focus on these functional disabilities:

  • Attention
  • Reading, linguistic
  • Visual comprehension

This is an example too often found in courses:

Check the red dates on the assignments page for the latest due dates. Remember to submit your written assignments as well as complete the weekly discussion.


  • A person using a screen reader would not "see" the red dates.
  • Several of the colors do not have enough contrast to be legible.
  • The colors could not be distinguished by a person with a color deficiency.
  • Multiple colors also distract the reader and slow down comprehension.

Pick one color as a accent color, or simply use the bold and /or italics to draw the reader's attention.

Academic Technology Center | Building 77 Room 138| 11000 University Pkwy. | Pensacola, FL 32514 | (850) 474-2056 | 1.888.529.1823 | 850.474.2807 (Fax) | | Campus Map | Text Only