Skip to Content (Press Enter)

This document is a draft, and is designed to show changes from a previous version. It is presently showing added text,changed text,deleted text,[start]/[end] markers,and Issue Numbers.

Hide All Edits   |   Toggle Deletions  |   Toggle Issue Numbers   |   Toggle [start]/[end] Markers   |   Show All Edits

Changes are displayed as follows:


Use of Color:
Understanding SC 1.4.1

1.4.1 Use of Color: [begin add]Color is not used as the only visual means of conveying information, indicating an action, prompting a response, or distinguishing a visual element.[end add] [begin delete]Any information that is conveyed by color differences is also simultaneously visually evident without the color differences.[end delete] (Level A)

[begin add]

Note 1: This success criterion addresses color perception specifically. Other forms of perception are covered in Guideline 1.3. [2255]

[end add]
[begin add]

Note 2: Programmatic access to color and other visual presentation coding is covered in Guideline 1.3.

[end add]

Intent of this Success Criterion

The intent of this success criterion is to ensure that all users can access information that is conveyed by color differences[begin add], that is, by the use of color where each color has a meaning assigned to it[end add]. If the information is conveyed through color differences in an image (or other non-text format), the color may not be seen by users with color deficiencies. In this case, providing the information conveyed with color through another visual means ensures users who cannot see color can still perceive the information.

Color is an important asset in design of Web content, enhancing its aesthetic appeal, its usability, and its accessibility. However, some users have difficulty perceiving color. People with partial sight often experience limited color vision, and many older users do not see color well. In addition, people using text-only, limited-color or monochrome displays and browsers will be unable to access information that is presented only in color.

[begin add]

Examples of information conveyed by color differences: “required fields are red”, “error is shown in red”, and “Mary’s sales are in red, Tom's are in blue”.

[end add]
[begin add]

Note: This should not in any way discourage the use of color on a page, or even color coding if it is redundant with other visual indication.

[end add]

Specific Benefits of Success Criterion 1.4.1:

[begin delete]

This success criterion benefits people with visual disabilities:

[end delete]
  • Users with partial sight often experience limited color vision.

  • Some older users may not be able to see color well.

  • Users who have color-blindness benefit when information conveyed by color is available in other visual ways.

  • People using text-only, limited color, or monochrome displays may be unable to access color-dependent information.

Examples of Success Criterion 1.4.1

Related Resources

Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.

Techniques and Failures for Success Criterion 1.4.1 [Use of Color]

Each numbered item in this section represents a technique or combination of techniques that the WCAG Working Group deems sufficient for meeting this success criterion. The techniques listed only satisfy the success criterion if all of the WCAG 2.0 conformance requirements have been met.

Sufficient Techniques

Instructions: Select the situation below that matches your content. Each situation includes numbered techniques (or combinations of techniques) that the Working Group deems to be sufficient for that situation.

Situation A: If the color of particular words is used to indicate information:
  1. G14: Ensuring that information conveyed by color differences is also available in text

  2. G122: Including a text cue whenever color cues are used

  3. Ensuring that when text color differences are used to convey information, the text style is visually differentiated without color differences (future link)

  4. Conveying all information in text that is conveyed by color differences (future link) [2031]

Situation B: If color is used within an image to convey information:
  1. G111: Using color and pattern

  2. G14: Ensuring that information conveyed by color differences is also available in text

Additional Techniques (Advisory)

Although not required for conformance, the following additional techniques should be considered in order to make content more accessible. Not all techniques can be used or would be effective in all situations.


The following are common mistakes that are considered failures of Success Criterion 1.4.1 by the WCAG Working Group.