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How to create high resolution images for users with low vision

Here are my favorite tips for how to create high resolution images for low vision users - a must have for students with visual impairments!

High resolution images are my favorite images – and as a person with low vision, they are the only types of images I can see. High resolution images can be used with screen magnification tools, displayed on multiple devices and screen sizes, or enlarged on a projector or similar magnification tools, and are a valuable tool for users with low vision. Here are my tips for how to create high resolution images for low vision, and how to locate high resolution images online.

Definition of a high resolution image

A high resolution image is defined as having at least 300 dpi (dots per inch) and can be scaled across multiple sizes for web and print materials, as well as enlarged without any visible pixelation or blurriness.

High resolution images typically are saved as Portable Network Graphics (PNG), though JPEG and GIF images can also meet the criteria for high resolution images. I prefer to use PNG files whenever possible, as they have a wide range of colors and compression options, and can be enlarged without sacrificing quality.

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Color images vs black and white

There’s a common misconception that black and white graphics are the best option for high resolution images for users with low vision, since they have a limited color palette. However, color images are also great candidates for creating high resolution images, especially rich and saturated colors. I actually prefer to use color images myself, because I have normal color vision and can use color to convey or get a quick glance at information.

One option for making colored text easier to read is to add a black or white border around each character so that it “pops” against the background.

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Creating high contrast images

High contrast images often use a simplified color palette and are designed with high visibility in mind.

Examples of images with high contrast include:

Examples of image with low contrast include:

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Creating high resolution images using technology

Some of my favorite ways to create high-resolution images with mainstream technology include:

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Drawing images by hand for high resolution scans

A few tips for drawing diagrams and pictures that can be converted to high resolution images:

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Tips for scanning high resolution images

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Searching for high resolution images

Several search engines have filters for finding HD or high resolution images, along with options to search for images with a minimum resolution. This can be done by selecting the Filter option on Bing or Tools on Google, and choosing a size from the drop-down menu.

Some examples of websites that have a large amount of high resolution images include:

Reverse search for high resolution images

Already have an image and looking to see if it’s available in a higher resolution? Run a reverse search for an image to see if there are other image dimensions available on other websites. A few options for doing this include:

Improving the resolution of existing images

There are a few tools online and that are available with photo editing applications for increasing the resolution of images and improving the clarity of existing images, including:

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More tips on how to create high resolution images for low vision

By Veronica Lewis/Veronica With Four Eyes,

Updated April 2024; original post published January 2018.

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