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Accessible Firebrand: “Why can’t I use my brand color there? …and if not there – then where?”

taught by: Deneb Pulsipher
co-presented by: Mark Alvis

Session Summary

Every company is strongly invested in its brand colors, even when these don’t meet contrast ratio requirements against the site’s background color. From an accessibility specialist’s perspective, it’s essential to know where these colors cannot be used, but from a designer’s practical and aesthetic perspective, it’s important to know where and how they can safely be used to build brand identity.


In this session you'll learn how and why companies are often inclined to use their brand colors in inaccessible ways. Together we’ll examine real-world uses of brand colors in places that are clear and not-so-clear violations of the WCAG and other accessibility principles. We’ll discuss ways to demonstrate the problem to the company decision makers, including tools that can help illustrate the problem. We’ll suggest arguments to use to persuade decision-makers to change their tactics. Perhaps most importantly, we’ll go over how companies can engagingly use their brand colors on their site in ways that don’t violate accessibility principles. This will make it so that decision makers don’t balk as much at abandoning their inaccessible uses.

Practical Skills

  • Participants will learn how to spot inaccessible uses of brand colors.
  • Participants will learn how to explain and show the problem to decision makers and persuade companies to change their inaccessible usage.
  • Participants will learn how to incorporate inaccessible colors into site designs in accessible ways. They will learn how to use these colors in less-conventional but still striking and beautiful ways. They will be given a toolbox of options for incorporating these noncompliant colors.