Accessibility Tip of the Week: Ensuring Sufficient Contrast

Colorful umbrella

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about how to ensure your content has a sufficiently high contrast ratio. Please reach out to Robert with any accessibility questions. He is more than happy to talk by phone or schedule a time to meet with you.

When designing content, it is important to consider the perceived contrast of text or graphical elements against their background.  Text with a low contrast ratio can be difficult to read and may cause issues with eye strain or reader fatigue.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), defines a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for regular text, and 3:1 for large text. For most textual content, black or dark gray text on a white background has a sufficiently high contrast ratio. For instance, the text within this blog has a ratio of 11:1, far surpassing the minimum threshold.

Care should be taken when changing font colors. Here are some examples of text color combinations and their ratios against a white background:

  • Low contrast gray text Ratio: 1.3:1
  • Sufficient contrast gray text Ratio: 4.6:1
  • Low contrast blue text Ratio: 1.9:1
  • Sufficient contrast blue text Ratio: 6.1:1
  • Sufficient contrast red text Ratio: 5.6:1

Additional care should be taken when altering background colors. Generally, including a background of the same color type will create contrast issues and should be avoided. Here are some examples of low contrast content using the sufficiently contrasted colors from above:

  • Low contrast gray text on a gray background text Ratio: 2.1:1
  • Low contrast blue text on blue background Ratio: 2.6:1
  • Low contrast red text on red background Ratio: 1.5:1

When designing graphical content, such as flyers or website layouts, it can be challenging to ensure sufficient contrast when placing text over an image. To do so, you can use design elements such as text shadows or text outlines, as we have done on our district page.

Screen Shot 2021-03-18 at 1.43.26 PM

By including a text outline, we are able to display white text over a complex, and occasionally white background.

Low contrast text is generally apparent to a content author, but these tools can help to check the contrast ratios of your content:

  • Colour Contrast Analyser – Works for both Mac and Windows and can check contrast across multiple applications.
  • Color Contrast Analyzer – Google Chrome extension that visually displays the perceived contrast of content. Useful for designing web content.

If you have questions about using these tools or ensuring the contrast of your content is sufficient, please feel free to reach out to Robert Hardy, the district’s Website Accessibility Specialist.

DRS offers live webinars during Spring Break

Close up of person typing on laptop computer with notebook in the foreground

OSD employees are invited to attend live Department of Retirement Systems webinars April 6–8, 2021. The DRS Education & Outreach team will present several topics, including:

  • Plan 2 Basics (PERS, TRS, SERS)
  • Plan 3 Basics (PERS, TRS, SERS)
  • Online Resources
  • Getting Ready for Retirement
  • Applying for Retirement

Logging into a webinar

Employees can visit the DRS Webinar Page for the schedule. Pre-registration is not required for these sessions; however, we recommend attendees join 15 minutes early to ensure a successful connection. How to join a DRS webinar provides tips for logging in, and help is also available at 360-664-7930.

Education & Outreach offers webinars for all members of DRS as well as many retirement planning resources.


If you have any questions regarding this DRS Notice, please contact Employer Support Services at 360-664-7200, option 2, or 800-547-6657, option 6, option 2, or email.

Learn about new OSD PayActiv Earned Wage Access

PayActiv QR code to go to the Apple/Google app store and download the PayActiv App. Information also includes: Access the money you have already earned. Transfer wages to your bank, card, or pickup as cash.

PayActiv Earned Wage Access is one of the many benefits you can now enjoy at Olympia School District. It is a great option to get your pay when you need it prior to payday at the end of the month. Enrollment is from the 1st through the 14th of each month. There is a blackout period after that until payroll is processed.

To start, you can download the PayActiv App from Apple or Google app stores and create your account using your employee ID. You can find your employee ID when you create an electronic timesheet in ETRS. It is that simple. You can then see your earnings and get your money between the 1st and the 14th of each month.

More information about PayActiv is posted on the staff Intranet Payroll Benefits page. Be sure to log in to your Google account to access the staff intranet.

If you have questions, call 1-877-937-6966. PayActiv provides 24×7 customer service.

Schoology for secondary hybrid groupings

In preparation for hybrid learning at the secondary level, many of you have reached out with questions about steps to take in Schoology. Secondary teachers will NOT get new courses in Skyward and Schoology for hybrid. Students in the A, B and full distance groups will be in the same class on Skyward and Schoology, with a designation for attendance purposes. 

As you transition to hybrid, grading groups in Schoology may be useful for posting differentiated information and resources for A, B and full distance cohorts. We recommend using grading groups to share folders, information, links, and/or discussions, assessments or assignments for the hybrid cohorts. Material assigned to a specific grading group in Schoology will only be visible to that grading group. 

For information and video tutorials on creating and using grading groups in Schoology, please visit the OSD Teacher Techbox, which is linked in the OSD Portal.

Education Support Professionals Week is March 8-12

Bus driver looks at camera while seated in driver's seat with front doors open at a school stop

The Olympia School District is joining the state in recognizing Education Support Professionals Week March 8-12.

Superintendent Patrick Murphy read a proclamation during the February 25 Olympia School Board meeting recognizing March 8-12, 2021 as Education Support Professionals Week. Copies of the proclamation will be sent to leaders of the district’s Education Support employee bargaining units, many of whom were in attendance on the Zoom meeting. They include:

Amy McGuire and Alicia Snyder

Mario Mejia

Brandi Sorem

Melvin Smith

Shandi Cardin
William Knight (Technology)
Paul Sierra (Maintenance)
Tim Walling (Grounds)
Mary Hiatt (Custodial)
Calvin Dawson (Custodial)
Tommy Gallegos (Transportation)
Sandra Keyt (Child Nutrition Services)

More than 800 education support professionals work with and help children throughout our district. They are involved in nearly every aspect of education, including maintaining school buildings and school grounds; providing administrative support; preparing and serving meals; providing safe transportation; keeping school facilities clean; assisting in the classroom; providing a secure environment; providing information technology and media services; and offering other specialized services.

The resolution states in part that “education support professionals are instrumental in fulfilling the state’s responsibility to educate all students.” The one-page resolution, which will be posted in every school and support building from March 8-12, also states that by supporting the learning environment, “education support professionals are crucial partners with teachers, parents, administrators and school boards.”

Please remember to thank an education support professional working in our schools.

Read the full Olympia School District proclamation

‘Get Ready’ vaccination information posted on OSPI website

Health care worker in white gown and blue gloves prepares to administer a vaccine into a woman's arm.

On January 29, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal and Kaiser Permanente announced “Get Ready,” a large-scale school vaccination plan to equitably and safely vaccinate Washington educators and school staff when eligible under the state’s vaccination protocols.

On March 2, 2021, President Biden announced that he expects all K–12 school employees to receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before the end of March. To meet this directive, K–12 school employees were immediately moved to the currently eligible vaccination phase in Washington – Phase 1B, Tier 1.

Following the announcement from President Biden, school employees are now eligible across the country to be vaccinated. With this update, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Kaiser Permanente have approval to launch the “Get Ready” program.

Information about the Get Ready plan is available on the OSPI website at the following links:

Other vaccination opportunities

Last week, in an email to all OSD staff, we also encouraged employees to view the State Department of Health vaccine locator tool to locate other vaccination opportunities. The providers are listed by county.

High fives to this week’s Everyday Heroes

Everyday Heroes Logo with the words: Celebrating OSD Employees

Everyday Heroes is a regular feature in this staff blog. Remember to submit names of employees districtwide who have done something deserving of encouragement and praise. Give a shout-out to one of your colleagues at your school or support building and watch for it to appear in an upcoming Everyday Heroes blog post.

Here are our newest honorees:

Everyday Hero
Jen Baker, Administrative Assistant, Support Service Center

Jenifer Baker deserves a huge shout out for everything she does for buildings and grounds. She really does do a bit of everything, too. She is always quick to help us with our sometimes silly administrative questions and problems regarding everything from True Time, Skyward, scanning and copying, our procurement and budget, and so much more. It can be hectic around the Support Service Center shop, especially during the last year, and Jen always has a smile and a couple minutes to chat when we come to her for help. The Maintenance and Grounds departments could not operate without Jen, and we are lucky to have her on our team. Thanks, Jen!
Submitted by Ben Swick, Maintenance Technician, Support Service Center

Everyday Heroes
Transition Program Staff and Students

A special shout-out to our fellow students and staff from the Transition Program. As Garfield prepares for our preschool through fifth grade students on site, we have really appreciated the extra support we have received from our older students in the Transition Program and staff members Kathy Lewis, Dena Liden, Reilly Gahm, Erin Papiez, and Janet Forbord; along with teachers Julia Calhoon and Jesse Davis. The team comes to Garfield several times a week and helps sanitize areas inside the school and cleans up around our gardens, playground and field. This extra support has been really important for the safety and overall cleanliness of our school. It is always a positive when our older students are willing and interested in helping our youngers. We are truly grateful for their support.
Submitted by Principal Brendon Chertok and the Garfield Community, Garfield Elementary School

How to nominate an Everyday Hero

  • Email the Communications and Community Relations Department ( a few sentences, and no more than 200 words, about why the person deserves recognition. It’s easiest to write as if speaking directly to the colleague, such as “Thank you for helping with…” or “I really appreciated when you…”
  • Write “Everyday Heroes” in the subject heading of the email.
  • Include your first and last name as the person submitting the comments.
  • Include the first and last name of the OSD employee you are recognizing.
  • Include the job title and work location (school or department) of the person you are recognizing.

All submissions will be posted in this blog on a weekly basis and archived each week.

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Resources available on district website

Open book with many pages

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about accessibility resources. Please contact Robert with any accessibility questions. He is more than happy to talk by phone or schedule a time to meet with you.

The Olympia School District is committed to providing accessible content for our students and our community. To aid in this effort, the Communications department has created and gathered a wealth of resources on the creation of accessible documents and media for posting to the web.

These resources may be found on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page, and they cover the most popular tools used within the district, including:

Please take advantage of these resources when producing content intended for the web. If you use a unique software suite, or if you have accessibility questions in general, please reach out to Robert Hardy for assistance.

Register for Lifelines Suicide Prevention Training 2021 in April

Workshop sign

Middle and high school staff are invited to register for a virtual workshop developed and presented by Maureen Underwood & Associates, national experts in suicide prevention, in partnership with the Olympia School District Education Foundation (OSDEF). 

All middle and high school staff are invited to learn:

  • Facts about suicide risk in youth.
  • Tools to recognize suicide risk in your students.
  • How to be a trusted adult in a student’s life.
  • Tips on maintaining a trauma informed classroom.
  • Techniques to implement self care in your own life.

Please click on the link below to register on the staff intranet (be sure to log in to Google to access the intranet):

All High School Staff: April 14, 2021 – 3-4:30 p.m.
All Middle School StaffApril 28, 2021 – 3-4:30 p.m.

Don’t miss the latest Spotlight on Success featuring students and staff

Kindergarten student holds up a ball of clay to the camera during first day of hybrid learning

Interested in being kept up to date on some of the most exciting stories and news items from schools across our district? Take a few minutes and check out the February edition of our Spotlight on Success newsletter!

Here are a few of the articles in this month’s Spotlight on Success newsletter:

  • Students throughout OSD celebrate Black History Month
  • OSD Optional Elementary Programs
  • First day of hybrid in-person learning photos from across the district
  • Kris Larson, Distinguished Grad, Olympia High School Class of 1984
  • Pioneer students celebrate Month of Compassion with valentines project

Spotlight on Success is published monthly by the Olympia School District Communications Department. If there is something worthy of recognition taking place in your building (or classroom) that you feel deserves to be highlighted, please let us know. Simply email the OSD Communications Department at with your ideas and contact information and we will be in touch.

We hope you enjoy this edition of Spotlight on Success!