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**Best Practices for Accessible Text over Images in Web and Mobile App Design**

**Understanding the Text over Images Design Pattern**

The text over images design pattern is commonly used in web and mobile app design to place text on top of images. This technique is often used to provide information about the image or to serve as website navigation. However, if not done correctly, it can sacrifice legibility and readability. Designers must ensure that there is enough contrast between the text and the image, and that the text is positioned in the right place to avoid confusion or difficulty in reading.

**Improving Legibility with Overlay Techniques**

Overlay techniques, such as colored overlays or gradients, can be used to make images stand out less and improve the readability and contrast of the text. By adding an overlay, designers can ensure that the text is more easily distinguishable from the image. Examples of websites that effectively use overlays to enhance text readability include, Huston Engineering, and Della Vite.

**Enhancing Readability with Scrims**

Scrim overlays are semi-transparent gradient layers that help improve the readability of text against various backgrounds. According to Google Material Design, scrims are temporary treatments that can be applied to surfaces to make content less prominent. By darkening or lightening the surface and reducing its opacity, designers can direct user attention to other parts of the screen. This technique can be used with various colors, not just black or white. On-running, Solanco School District, and Soto Gardens are examples of websites that effectively use scrims to highlight text over images.

**Using the Strips/Highlight Technique**

The strips/highlight technique is a simple yet effective way to ensure text readability. By adding a semi-transparent rectangle strip over the image and placing the text on top of it, designers can guarantee that there is enough contrast between the text and the background. The Mode, Cantos, and Estea websites are examples of how the strip technique can be used creatively for headings, descriptions, and paragraphs.

**Meeting Accessibility Standards**

To ensure accessibility, all text should be legible and meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 level AA requirements. This includes a minimum color contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text. Designers should prioritize legibility and accessibility when choosing colors and designing text over images. Rodney Lab’s article “Accessible Text on Images: Nail the Contrast Ratio” provides further guidance on achieving the appropriate contrast ratio.


In conclusion, when using the text over images design pattern, it is crucial to prioritize both aesthetics and accessibility. By implementing overlay techniques, such as colored overlays and scrims, designers can enhance the legibility and readability of text. The strips/highlight technique is another effective way to ensure sufficient contrast between the text and the background. Ultimately, by adhering to accessibility standards, designers can create web and mobile app content that is visually appealing and accessible to all users.

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