Data Visualization Accessibility Checklist
Style Guidance

Data Visualization Accessibility Checklist

When SIMS creates products, we must strive to design them in such a way that they are accessible to as broad a group of people as possible. This means considering design elements that promote inclusivity, improve the user experience, and enhances understanding of the content. Creating inclusive communication products means we must consider people with visual limitations will engage with them and how people with less understanding of the world of international disaster response will interpret our information.

This guide contains information from the IFRC Data Playbook, 2021 Edition.

  • Color Check: Colors used have a high contrast ratio and the entire palette has been reviewed in a color vision deficiency simulator.
  • Use Descriptive Titles: The title should tell you exactly what question will be answered with the chart or graphic. If possible, include the chart’s key message in the title or subtitle.
  • Use a Descriptive Legend: Use actual names for the elements included in the legend for your chart or map, rather than variable names. This will make it easier for a text reader to interpret.
  • Include a Descriptive Caption, or Alt-Text for Web Visualizations: The caption or alt-text should provide context or any additional information needed for the interpretation of the chart. For example, include the data source, summary of key message, or any outliers that are important for the user to understand.
  • Add a Thin White Border Around Points and Stacked Bars: This makes it easier for users for color vision deficiencies to tell shapes apart if they have trouble interpreting the colors of the shapes.
  • Define Axis Labels: Axis labels should be presented as plain-text, rather than as the variable name (ex. “Number of people reached” instead of “x”). If possible, present axis labels horizontally. Do not hide axis labels to save space on smaller screens.
  • Don’t Hide Important Information in Interactivity: If you use hover-over interactivity, ensure that any information conveyed is also available within a caption or reference that could be read by a text reader.
  • Translate Acronyms or Abbreviations: Ensure that any acronyms are written out in the chart, even if they are already written out in another place within your document. Avoid figures of speech or idioms that may not be easily understandable to users to do not speak your language fluently.
  • Table Rows and Columns Are Simple: Avoid merged columns, multiple tables in the same spreadsheet, and other complicated table formatting that may be hard for a text reader to process.

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