Data Visualization Toolkit: Animations Accessibility Tips

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In data visualizations, animations can be used to portray data in a persuasive, memorable, and effective way. We can show processes, tell stories, and evoke emotions — all of which are difficult or impossible with static graphics and text alone. Using free online tools, even a nonprofessional can easily create professional-looking animations to tell a data story. Here, we discuss the use of animation to support a broader narrative and how data are best visualized for this use.

Although similar to presentations, animations and the data visualization considerations for them are sufficiently different to stand as a distinct category. Find out more about presentation tools in the Presentations section of this toolkit.

Animations Accessibility Tips

When using animation to communicate information, it is important to make the content accessible for all users including individuals with disabilities. The Web Accessibility Initiative has developed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 for web content accessibility. Guidelines related to animation include but are not limited to the following:

  • Equip all audio that plays for more than 3 seconds with stop, pause and volume control mechanisms.
  • Avoid using color as the only way of conveying or distinguishing information.
  • Provide an audio description for all video content.
  • Provide captions for all audio content.
  • Limit flashes to three or fewer during any 1-second period to avoid causing seizures.
  • Use at least space-and-a-half line spacing within paragraphs, and space-and-a-half larger line spacing to separate paragraphs.
  • Avoid using text justified across the page.