Article: ACE: A colour palette design tool for balancing aesthetics and accessibility.

Tigwell, G.W., Flatla, D.R., & Archibald, N.D. (2017). ACE: A colour palette design tool for balancing aesthetics and accessibility. ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing, 9(2): 1-32.

This article presents a new tool to help web designers manage colour palette design. The authors argue that existing colour palette design tools focus exclusively on aesthetics or accessibility, and are not adequate for the needs of web designers trying to balance creating websites which are accessible for all users with creating ones which are aesthetically pleasing to all users.

The authors describe four “key functions” of an ideal colour palette design tool based on a review of the literature:

1 – The tool needs to allow users to choose an entire palette of colours
2 – The tool needs to allow users to compare many different colour combinations simultaneousy to reduce the time spent meeting WCAG minimum contrast guidelines
3 – The tool should provide an “example website” using the palette chosen
4 – The tool should make problems to users with colour vision deficiency “more explicit” by providing simulations of the sample website (p.2)

The authors then set out to make a tool that could do all of these things, called ACE: the Accessible Colour Evaluator. Much of the rest of the article describes the process of creating and redesigning ACE based on developer feedback. This process is fascinating, and provides a useful look at what goes into creating accessibility tools.

The tool itself is easy to use and , available to use at should be a valuable asset in any web designer who wants to ensure their sites are more accessible to those with colour vision deficiency.