It was during my first job at a Dutch banking corporation that I got familiarised with all the effort and knowledge that is required to properly test and develop software to increase accessibility for your products and/or services.
There I learned about tools that help you check and prepare your product for people that need aids to control their computer. On why alternative text attributes must be applied for screen reader tools. And about how the contrast and font can help people with color- or vision challenges to use your website.
But somehow I forgot. I forgot that to make your solution usable and enjoyable for everyone – not just the masses – your product needs extra effort. You need to understand what challenges people might face and how one can take action to improve their experience and support the tools they might use as an answer to their challenges.
It’s too easy to build for the masses because you can sell it to yourself or your customers easily: the masses provide the most social media coverage and the masses is where the money is at.
Recently I got triggered by some good posts with pointers on how to make your mobile app more accessible. And they made me wonder if the popular mobile platforms have tools and decent information on how to reach a better accessibility grade. I’m glad to have found resources and that we – as developers – are not left in the dark.
But then again, when is a crowd big enough to take into consideration? Several studies from the last decade indicated that there are actually a LOT of people with disabilities using online services. I cannot imagine that a lot of them is also using mobile services and apps. The myth of the minority user is one example of an eye-opening research indicating that there are more people with vision disabilities in the USA browsing the web then that there are Canadians. Red-green color blindness affects up to 8% of males and 0.5% of females of Northern European descent. As this post shows, even a conservative estimate reveals there are 15.5 million potential customers with hearing or sight impairments.
In this post I’ve collected a bunch of links to platform best practises, tools and services. Because the easier it is for you to find and use those resources, the more likely your app will be more accessible.
Check out the resource overview and get yourself some knowhow to make your app accessible.
Creating a developer culture where addressing accessibility issues is stimulated and embedded in the development process would make a huge difference. And making clear that your app has put in the effort can be a win-win for both developers and the app users too. Think about the exposure on websites or the extra revenue because people want to use your app.
There is nothing wrong with you reaching out to organizations, the press or online communities and use it as a marketing thing.
But when you’re at it why not create a culture that embraces responsibility, one that applauds the effort of accessibility. Make it an effort that only creates winners: companies that help people to get more access to your services and needs and effort that show that you’re a company that cares. Because only when you create a culture that genuinely embraces a path to walk down and has everyone behind the way you’re walking down that path, you’re not giving it all you got.
In this post i’ve gathered some of the resources, tools and tips that help you educate yourself on improving accessibility. I hope this post will help you to get a first grasp at what comes looking when you want to improve your service and when you want to reach out to more people.
Let’s start by educating ourselves so we can give mobile apps that so much-needed accessibility boost. Start by implementing the quick win tips from the resources in this post and work yourself up to the biggest improvements one can make.
Let me know if and how this post helps you or if you have even better resources or links for me to add. Use the links and let them help you stretch your definition of serving people with your product and become a better developer. I’m curious about your thoughts.
My favorite resource: Check out the Mobile App Accessibility Handbook in the Generic Resources listing by the Hong Kong government. Although it is focussing at accessibility for mobile web apps it has quite some pointers and a great overview on accessibility issues that one needs to address in native / hybrid apps as well. Complements for the The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region well deserved!
- (tip!) Apple Developer Document: Accessibility Programming Guide for iOS (how to make your app accessible)
- (tip!) Apple Developer Document: About Accessibility Verification on iOS (how to test that it is accessible)
- WWDC16 Video: What’s new in Accessibility for iOS 10 (the latest iOS 10 accessibility features)
- WWDC16 Video: Inclusive App design (includes accessibility as a topic for your solutions design)
- WWDC16 Video: Auditing Your Apps for Accessibility (About a tool Accessibility Inspector)
- WWDC16 Video: Disability and Innovation: The Universal Benefits of Accessible Design (Accessibility improves your app and its usability too)
- (tip!) Android Developer Accessibility Guidlines (Generic guidelines and more from the big G)
- 3th party Accessibility testing App: Accessibility Auditer App (lets you test your – or any – app for its accessibility support)
- Android Developer Accessibility Checklist
Windows 10 Resources
- (tip!) W10 Website: Developing apps for accessibility
- eBook: Windows 10 Accessibility including the Windows Automation API
- Channel 9 video: What’s New in Accessibility (for Developers and Users)
- Channel 9 video: Introduction to building accessible UWP apps by Sean Hayes
- Channel 9 video: Building accessible UWP apps by Mariah Dunn and Sean Hayes
- Checklist: UWP Accessibility Checklist
- Windows Dev Center : A comprehensive Accessibility testing tools and tests overview
Generic Accessibility Resources
- (tip!) W3C Recommendation: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines; How WCAG 2.0 and Other W3C/WAI Guidelines Apply to Mobile
- (tip!) W3C Recommendation: Mobile Web Application Best Practices
- (tip!) A Handbook from The Government of Hong Kong: Mobile Application Accessibility Handbook
- Blog post: Is your app autism Friendly? Probably not
- Blog post: Designing For (and With) Color Blindness
- (American) Federal regulations regarding What Accessibility Standards Apply to Mobile Applications (the post and comments take into consideration both device bundled apps and 3th party apps – read every app)
- Cordova plugin: phonegap-mobile-accessibility (This plugin exposes information on the status of various accessibility features of mobile operating systems)
- Ionicframework forum post: This forum post is listing gulp and browser plugin tools that can be used for accessibility testing
- Xamarin Developer guides: Xamarin Cross platform Accessibility
- Xamarin Developer guides: Xamarin.Forms cross-platform accessibility functions aka AccessibilityEffect