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LEGIBILITY CONSIDERATIONS For Graphically Rich Content Displayed On Computer Monitors

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Abstract

Rough-draft/outline of work-in-progress on this subject. The conclusions are the result of reviewing the last several decades of published research from researchers including Legge, Arditi, Pelli, etc. as well as the current experiments we are conducting. We were brought to this issue by what appeared to be failings of color pairs assessed by the WCAG contrast math (i.e. false negative and false positive reporting), as well as complaints by designers, and what appeared to be suggested practices or values different than well known standards, including listing incorrect or obsolete standards information in some areas, notably the sRGB conversion function. This led to several months of research, investigation, and experimentation to find the true source(s) of these issues, and provide rational support for a replacement. As it turns out this is more than simply a math problem. In fact the research has shown that the real concern is not so much the WCAG contrast equation, but an overly simplified approach for what is actually a far more complicated subject, that of human visual perception of emissive displays with normal and impaired vision. Contrast ratios, by themselves in isolation, are not useful as an exclusive metric for legibility. Dr. Arditi expresses a similar sentiment in his 2017 paper "Rethinking ADA signage standards for low-vision accessibility" In which he is critical of the lack of real empirical support for various arbitrary contrast standards for signage. For our case — web pages for computer display — determining the contrast between two colors in isolation to the many other factors will not provide a useful nor relevant measure of legibility. To be clear, contrast is very important, but it is directly affected by much more than the luminance ratio between colors.

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