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Accessibility feedback: brand font

HAMK’s visual identity has been renewed in autumn 2023. As part of the change, the font used in Office documents was changed from Verdana to Arial. The font change inspired accessibility feedback from a HAMK employee:

“Why has HAMK switched to using the Arial font for Office documents, which is not as accessible as Verdana? In Arial, there is a risk of confusion of letters, since the capital I and lowercase l look similar. In Verdana, the letters look clearly different when they are placed side by side.”

Answer: a balance between visual identity and accessibility

The brand renewal has been led by HAMK’s corporate communications. The response to the feedback is the following:

When choosing the brand fonts, we have considered the accessibility of the font as a whole. Everything is aimed at making the text easy to read and browse.

The WCAG do not set specific requirements for fonts: font specifications are recommendations. The online service also states that there are no clear requirements to use a specific font: “Sans serif fonts such as Verdana, Tahoma, Trebuchet or Arial are considered easy to read in web content. The most important thing is the readability of the font.”

It must also be taken into account that, in principle, people do not read individual letters, but they are almost invariably part of a word, so the distinctiveness of one character from another is not the first thing that catches your eye.

It is true that in the fonts we have chosen, the lowercase l and the capital letter I resemble each other. When choosing the font, we made strong reflections and weighed different options with HAMK’s accessibility experts and other sources. We wanted to choose a font that would suit the brand image and be as accessible as possible.

From the point of view of communication, the most essential thing for accessibility is a well-worded, clear text.

The accessibility feedback given to HAMK is sent to the accessibility coordinator, who delivers it to the feedback destination and follows the counter-feedback. If the feedback has been submitted anonymously, the response to the feedback will be provided through the public website. If the person giving feedback is known, they will also be contacted personally.