Graphical Elements

Provide options to customize the presentation of all the important graphical elements in your application. This will make it easier for people with visual or cognitive impairments to use.

  • Don't hard-code graphic attributes such as line, border or shadow thickness. These elements should ideally be read from the GTK or window manager theme. If this is not possible, provide options within your application to change them.
  • Provide descriptive names for all interface components. The GAIL library provides default accessible descriptions for many GTK widgets, but you will still need to add your own in some cases, such as for widgets that use graphics instead of text (e.g. a well in a color palette, or an icon without a label). Consider overriding the defaults with more helpful or application-specific descriptions where possible.
  • Allow multi-color graphical elements (e.g. toolbar icons) to be shown in monochrome only, if possible. These monochrome images should be shown in the system foreground and background colors, which the user will have chosen for themselves (by their choice of GTK theme) for maximum legibility.
  • Make interactive GUI elements easily identifiable. For example, do not make the user hover the mouse over an object to determine whether it is clickable or not. Leave sufficient space between objects and clearly delineate object boundaries. Don't show GUI elements that look pretty but don't actually do anything, unless you also provide an option to switch them off.
  • Provide an option to hide graphics that don't convey essential information. Graphical images can be distracting to users with some cognitive disorders. The icons on the GNOME foot menu, for example, can be switched off whilst still leaving the menus fully functional.