Accesible App Development – Building Apps For Everyone!

Accesible App Development

According to the World Bank one billion people experience some form of disability, so in an era of mobile apps, an industry which is growing year on year, accesible app development is more important than ever.  

When it comes to app design and development, accessibility for users with disabilities is often neglected, but as technology advances so does the opportunity to empower people with disabilities and impairments and offer the capability to access the fun, engaging and advantageous world of apps!

By ensuring the features of a mobile app are accessible to users with impairments, this will not only improve the user experience but also allow a larger audience to use the app, which can have endless benefits not only morally, but financially and legally too!

What are the benefits of accesible app development?

If you are creating an app, you will quickly discover that spending time developing a great UI/UX is key to any app’s success and with accessible mobile app development this is where your design team can put a lot of thought and consideration into the features and understanding the user journey.

Having a great user-friendly app will not only enhance your brand and boost your business reputation, it will increase the size of your potential market. So adopting an inclusive design process with accessibility in mind is crucial.

Creating an accessible app may also give you the edge over your competition who may not have considered the long term benefits, and if you are hoping to gain investment, these attributes may go a long way with any potential investors as you are demonstrating your commitment to creating an inclusive, functional app for everyone to use. 

What are the legal standards in accesible app development?

While there are a number of recommendations for mobile app accessibility there is currently no worldwide standard or laws for the design and development.

Apple and Android both have developer guidelines and The Web Accessibility Initiative has put together detailed references for best practises too but there is currently no industry standard.

In the future there will more than likely be laws in place, so it is wise to protect your investment and ensure your app is future proof which will prevent having to spend time and money adding and rebuilding features of the app further down the track.

In the US alone, legal actions against companies are rising with 3,500 Digital Accessibility lawsuits filed in California in 2020 and the most notable recent case being against Domino’s Pizza!

Accesible App Development

How can I make my app accessible?

There are 4 classifications for disability, which include; cognitive, visual, hearing and mobility impairments. In the design phase it is vital to work through each step with each of these in mind. 

  • There are 300 million people in the world who are affected by colour blindness so implementing features which enhance colour and brightness is a great way to cater for these users.
  • The design process starts with brand identity and logo design, so using colours and fonts which are easy to read and taking colour use into consideration are all ways to assist with the visually impaired. 
  • Make sure all of your content is comprehensible – add underlines where there are hyperlinks and be mindful of colour contrasts.. 
  • More than 5% of the population experience some type of hearing loss, so providing transcripts are a great way to assist users with hearing impairments for any video content. Captions and subtitles are also great for users who may be travelling or commuting.
  • Mobility impairments can come with various difficulties including grip, so ensuring the page is displayed the same whether the device is in landscape or portrait can assist greatly. 
  • Increasing touch target sizing is also a great option for users with motor impairments.
  • Keyboard technology can also involve the use of an external keyboard which can be connected via bluetooth!
  • For users with cognitive impairments it is helpful to ensure screens have consistent layouts and adjustable loading speeds.  

The truth is, when we are designing an accessible app, it’s not only users with disabilities to consider. There are endless scenarios where a person could really benefit from an app which works in a more accessible way; from voice commands for someone who is driving or perhaps trying to follow a recipe for example, or even someone who has broken an arm or sprained a finger. Perhaps someone is limited in their mobility as they are holding a baby. 

Impairments can be permanent, temporary and situational, so by incorporating inclusive design you are welcoming the widest possible audience – which makes great business sense!    

 

Accesbile App Development

What accessible apps are already available?

There are a number of apps already available in the app stores which can assist people with disabilities in their everyday lives:

  1.  Be My Eyes – Be My Eyes is a free to download app available on the App Store and Google Play. This app connects blind and visually compromised people with volunteers for visual assitance through a video call. These volunteers are able to “lend their eyes” to help solve tasks and allow people with low vision to lead more independant lives.
  2.  Rogervoice – RogerVoice is designed to assist deaf people or hard of hearing to communicate, the app uses voice recognition technology to turn the audio into transcripts which are displayed on the screen.
  3.  Voice4u – Voice4u is a symbol based communication app which has been built especially for users with speech difficulties, its comes with 180 icons and the user can create their own library of icons aswell.
  4.  Big Keys – Big Keys is available on IOS and Ipad and allows the customisation of the size of the keys on a devices keyboard. It also includes large numbers and emojis. This app is great for a user with mobility issues and thse who often struggle with the smaller keys on a device.

Conclusion

The foundation of any successful app is the design, spending time on getting this aspect on point and ensuring the app is available to the widest audience possible will pay dividends in the future and save time and money.

The world is rapidly transforming. Design can too.

Media Shark are advocates for accesible and inclusive design in app development – reach out to us if you need some assistance with the design or development of your app! 🙂