How to make your mobile application more accessible?
To make your brand app more accessible, consider all challenges that your potential customers face. That should cover people with impaired vision, motor difficulties, cognitive or learning difficulties, as well as deafness or hearing impairment. Designing an affordable application means much more than creating a beautiful design.
This year, the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) offered more guidance on mobile app accessibility, emphasizing such aspects as custom text size options, screen navigation buttons, and apparent image descriptions. The organization insists that they are added to all devices.
Digital design company Diamond has published its latest report on the state of accessibility, Mashable.com said. The report analyzes the top 20 free and the top 20 paid apps in iOS and Android app stores. It argues that 65% of the free iOS apps and 75% of the Android apps cover the accessibility standards. The picture is different for paid applications – only 35% of iOS and 29% of Android applications pass the accessibility test. That may be because paid applications usually have fewer users and less feedback on performance, Diamond explains in its report. According to our experience, the financial model also influences this difference through the target diversity and scale of customers.
Here are some tips on how to adapt your app to current accessibility standards:
# Phone orientation – According to the testing of Diamond’s free apps, only 28% of iPhones and 25% of Android apps reorient their screens for users who need to use their devices in certain positions. Among the new recommendations of the Web Accessibility Initiative is the support of both phone orientations – vertical and horizontal. That is beneficial for users who need to keep their phones in fixed positions, like mounted on the arm of a wheelchair, for example. And if the screen orientation changes automatically in the application, the screen reader must be notified, which supports blind users.
# Text resizing – The idea is to ensure that the visual settings of the user’s phone are mirrored in the downloaded app. If a visually impaired user has set a larger text size, the application font should also change according to it. In the top 20 free apps, 28% of iPhones and 52% of Android apps resize their text, according to Diamond report.
# Alternative text for images – About 82% of free iOS apps and 77% of Android apps have built-in, readable text descriptions of what Diamond calls “informative images”. However, more than half of the paid iOS apps fail in this aspect. For Android, the situation is even worse – 75 per cent of paid applications do not include usable text descriptions. This alternative text for images is crucial, for example, for visually impaired users using screen readers. It appears in place of the image and provides a better description for search engine robots, helping them index the image correctly.
# Screen reader titles – Diamond tests the app titles for registration screens, login and logout features, and menus. These elements need to be easily handled by the phone’s screen reading features, with free apps dominating over paid apps once again – 97.5% of free iOS apps and 95% of Android apps pass the test, and only 50% of paid iOS and 10% of Android apps have titles available. Registration and login screens must be compatible with screen readers, “Login” or “Register” buttons must be clearly defined, as well as the starting points for filling out forms.
# Available audio and video – Users should be able to pause or stop the sound and picture, adjust the volume and turn subtitles on and off. You may also need to consider adding an audio description for users with visual impairments and subtitles and gesture language for those who may not be able to hear.
# Color Palette – It is a top priority when designing any application, as most companies associate specific colours with their brand. To make your app accessible to colour blind people, do not rely solely on colour to convey the message. That does not mean avoiding colours, but the palette must be carefully selected so that users can freely interpret the information displayed.
Following the accessibility guidelines is a good starting point. But it is crucial to test all these recommendations. You can engage real users at random and ask them to try out parts of the app or use digital tools that offer detailed screen reading help.