Accessibility on Mobile: make sure “works” means “works for everyone.”

 

Erica Smith

Talented, organized and professional software engineer with extensive knowledge of Android and iOS application development.

Updated Nov 17, 2020

Why is it important? 

If you want your app to "work for everyone", first you need to understand some key data points: 

  • Approximately one in seven people worldwide have a disability or impairment that affects the way they interact with the world and their devices. 
  • There has been a 600% increase in mobile screen reader usage in just over 3 years.
  • There is a higher percentage of people that use a screen reader on a mobile device as opposed to their laptop or desktop computer.
  • Almost 75% of internet users will be mobile-only by 2025.
  • As of midyear 2020, 20 percent of ADA digital lawsuits in federal court claimed apps were inaccessible.
  • For your mobile app to be successful, you need to make sure that it can reach the widest possible audience.

Why is it overlooked? 

As software developers, we’re often faced with the challenge of building an MVP quickly and cheaply in order to test a hypothesis. And all too often, this process doesn’t include accessibility features. Once the hypothesis is proven, the thought is that we can go back in and update for accessibility. 

In our experience, we believe it’s better to always keep accessibility top of mind while building an app, and ensure that features follow accessibility guidelines. This should make it easier to address accessibility issues, as opposed to waiting until an app has been completely built and updating with accessibility later.

What to do about it? 

It is important to not overlook some very important best practices to ensure an app is accessible to everyone, regardless of their visual, auditory, cognitive or physical abilities. Things to consider:

  • Limited time-based video or audio that some people may have trouble keeping up with
  • Text to speech compatibility with video or images
  • Information continuity between portrait and landscape viewing modes
  • Making information presentable for people with colorblindness
  • No seizure inducing light flashes
  • Adjustable time for people with learning disabilities or visual processing handicaps
  • Navigation aides to find content and information
  • Adjustable size text, color, and brightness built into the app
  • Future proof assistive technology compatibility

Here's a Tech Talk we gave detailing how we embrace this opportunity at GenUI: