Saturday, November 03, 2018

Accessible Programs

I go to a lot of concerts, and I see a lot of programs.

Most programs are utilitarian, which is fine by me: they use black type on white paper, and the type is a readable size (hint: 11 points or bigger). (Click the photos below to enlarge them.)

For example, Bayreuth Festival, 2015, from the Lohengrin program:

I don't much like the fact that the two sections have different ledding (the space between the lines), and I don't love the font, but it's readable.

Here's a photo of the program for San Francisco Opera's recent Cav and Pag:

Again, I don't love the font; there are better-looking sans serif fonts, and the point size could be a tiny bit bigger, but it's readable.

Sometimes SFO runs off the rails, however. This is the director's note to Roberto Devereux:

The body type is black, but it's printed against a beige background that is imposed over a photo of the set, so the effect is that it's black type over constantly shifting blocks of background color, and the blocks are often curved, so sentences are printed over two different colors.

This is really a pain to read.

And here is what Shotgun Players is giving audiences at Women Laughing Alone with Salad, which I was tweeting about three minutes later:

Yes, that is white type on an acid-green background. For the love of God, don't do this to your  audiences! The lack of contrast makes this very very difficult to read. I basically threw the program against the wall - well, returned it to the stack of programs, because the theater staff isn't responsible for this thing.

There are standards for accessible contrast; they are easy to find on line; program designers should keep in mind that audiences (meaning donors) are disproportionately older. Some of us, regardless of age, have lousy eyesight along one axis or another; some of us are legally blind. Please don't make it hard for us to read the programs. Use black type in a large-enough point size on a white background.

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