The Importance of App Accessibility in 2023

The Importance of App Accessibility in 2023: A Look at the Benefits and Legal Implications

Have you ever been scrolling through social media and come across a video that you can't understand because your phone is on mute? It can be frustrating, especially if it's something you really want to watch. But for those who are hearing impaired, this type of scenario is a daily struggle. Oftentimes, videos on social media or other platforms do not have captions, making it difficult or impossible for deaf or hard of hearing individuals to access the content. This is where accessibility comes into play.

As business leaders, app developers, and UX designers, it's important to consider the needs of all users, including those with disabilities. In fact, people with disabilities make up a significant portion of the audience, and it's important to make sure that your products and services are accessible to them. But don't just take our word for it - the statistics speak for themselves.

The Impact of Accessibility on Apps: A Look at the Numbers

Did you know that 15% of the global population lives with some form of disability, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)? Despite this, a 2020 survey conducted by WebAIM found that an alarming 98% of the top websites in the world do not fully meet accessibility standards.

This presents a significant issue for those with disabilities who may rely on computers and the internet for communication and access to information.

In fact, a survey in the United States found that 62% of adults with disabilities own a desktop or laptop computer, yet may not have the necessary accessibility features to use it effectively. These statistics highlight the importance of prioritizing accessibility in the development of apps and websites.

One major issue with mobile content is the lack of captions for the hearing impaired and alt text for images, making it difficult or impossible for those with visual impairments to use the app. Additionally, font sizes and contrasts are often not adjustable for those with partial visual disabilities. The root cause of these problems with mobile accessibility is often a lack of understanding or priority given to these issues by UX designers, app developers, and business leaders.

To truly make an app accessible, it's not enough to simply improve the design layout. It's important to also consider the needs of all users, including those with disabilities, and ensure that the app meets the requirements outlined by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). In this article, we'll provide tips on how to improve the accessibility of your app according to these guidelines so that it can be used by a wider audience and meet the needs of all users.

Improving Accessibility: Tips and Techniques for Making Your App More Inclusive

Did you know that creating websites and apps that are accessible to people with disabilities who use mobile devices to access information is known as mobile accessibility? To ensure that your app or website is accessible to all users, it's important to consider the various barriers that may exist for different individuals. This includes those with mobility issues, cognitive or learning disabilities, and deafness or hearing and visual impairments. By taking these barriers into account and designing with accessibility in mind, you can create an app or website that is accessible and user-friendly for everyone.

Incorporating captions and alt text can make a significant difference for those with disabilities.

Captions for videos are essential for those who are deaf or have a hearing impairment, and they can also be useful in noisy environments or while traveling. It's also important to consider those who rely on text-to-speech software when designing your app or website. By including alternative text for all photos and icons, you can ensure that all users are able to access and use your app or website.

It's important to ensure that your content is consistent and easy to view regardless of the orientation of the device.

If your app or website requires users to swipe, zoom, or refresh after switching between portrait and landscape mode, it may not be compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). To make your app or website accessible to all users, it's important to ensure that the content remains the same and is easy to access no matter how the device is held.

It's important to clearly distinguish between buttons and text in your app or website.

To make your content accessible to all users, you should avoid placing buttons or URLs within the body of your text. Instead, use text formatting such as bold or underline to indicate actionable content and make it clear to users what is clickable. By following this practice, you can ensure that your app or website is easy to navigate and use for all users.

When designing your app or website, it's important to consider users who may be colorblind.

One basic accessibility guideline to follow is to avoid expressing a message solely through the use of color. For example, if you want to indicate a new notification, don't just use the color red - also include an exclamation point or other symbol. Additionally, you should avoid using too many similar hues and ensure that your color contrasts meet the requirements outlined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). By following these guidelines, you can create content that is accessible and easy to understand for all users, including those who are colorblind.

It's important to be aware of elements that may be seizure-inducing when designing your app or website.

To minimize the risk of seizures, avoid including elements that regularly flash on the screen, and avoid constantly changing colors or designs. If you do choose to include these types of elements, be sure to include a warning and provide the option for users to disable them. By being mindful of these issues, you can create content that is accessible and safe for all users.

Are you worried that you won't be able to take all of these considerations into account during the app development process?

There are tools available to help you test the accessibility features of your app or website. If you are developing an app for Apple devices, you can use the Accessibility Inspector to test for accessibility. For Android apps, you can refer to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for guidance. If you are a website designer, you may find the Multi guideline Accessibility and Usability Validation Environment (MAVE) to be a helpful resource.

This tool allows you to assess the accessibility of your website by verifying your HTML and CSS code against the WCAG 2.1 success criteria. By using these tools, you can ensure that your app or website is accessible and easy to use for all users.

An Introduction to WCAG: Understanding the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide valuable guidance for businesses and individual developers who want to make their digital content accessible to all users. Created by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the WCAG consists of international recommendations and technical specifications for online content accessibility. The goal of these guidelines is to make web content more accessible and usable on a variety of devices, including desktop computers, laptops, and smartphones, especially for those with disabilities such as auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, verbal, or visual impairments. The first edition of the WCAG, known as WCAG 1.0, was released in 1999, and the latest version, WCAG 2.2, is currently a working draft as of May 2021.

The Foundations of Accessibility: An Introduction to the Four Principles

Online content accessibility is an important aspect of the digital landscape, and industry-recognized criteria have been developed to ensure that content can be accessed by all users.

These criteria are known as POUR, which stands for Perceptibility, Usability, Understandability, and Robustness. The goal of POUR is to provide a framework that focuses on the user experience and how people interact with online content, rather than the specific technologies used to create it.

By following POUR, content creators can ensure that their materials are accessible to as many people as possible, regardless of their abilities or technological capabilities.

Accessibility is a crucial aspect of creating online content that is usable by all individuals, regardless of their abilities or technological capabilities. In order to ensure that your content is accessible, it's important to consider the following principles:

  • Perceivable:

Can users access your content and interface through their available senses? This includes making text available to those who are deaf or hard of hearing, and audio available to those who are blind or visually impaired. It also involves ensuring that assistive devices like screen readers can access your material.

  • Operable:

Can users easily navigate and use your content, no matter how they are accessing it? This means making all options accessible through a keyboard or voice commands, and allowing for customization of animations and media for users with cognitive impairments. It also involves providing modifiable time constraints for completing tasks.

  • Understandable:

Can users easily understand your content and the services you offer? This involves organizing your site in a way that prevents misinterpretation, and using a predictable and consistent structure and clear wording for your interface.

  • Robust:

Is your content compatible with a wide range of software platforms and assistive devices, including older browser versions? Adhering to development standards, such as using HTML, CSS, and JS in a way that is compatible with most browsers, is the best way to meet this principle.

A Quick Overview of WCAG Requirements for Accessible Digital Content

Now that you have a basic understanding of web content accessibility and the four underlying principles, it's time to delve deeper. The WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) offer additional guidance through 13 guidelines, which are further broken down into specific success criteria that your digital content must meet.

These guidelines are rated according to their level of accessibility, with A being the minimum standard, AA being the next level up, and AAA being the highest level of accessibility. While many companies may not meet the AA standard in all areas of their content, you have the opportunity to make your app more accessible to a wider range of users. If you're new to this topic, consider downloading an e-book that presents the information in an easy-to-understand way.

The WCAG is a valuable resource for anyone looking to design the most accessible features for their product, and can be applied during the development of websites and apps to ensure that no users are excluded.

 

Read other Article: The 10 most effective user interface design methodologies

Understanding the Legal Implications of Accessibility in the Digital World

In the past, WCAG standards were simply recommendations rather than legally enforceable requirements. However, that is changing as the importance of designing an inclusive user experience becomes increasingly recognized. In the European Union, the European Accessibility Act is being drafted to improve the accessibility of products and services.

This law is expected to be passed by EU member states by June 2022 and will come into effect by July 2025. Additionally, an agency established by the EU will have the power to impose sanctions on public and commercial entities that fail to meet WCAG requirements by 2025.

In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is often cited in accessibility cases as a civil rights law that ensures equal access to goods and services for people with disabilities.

Title III of the ADA requires businesses to remove barriers that prevent people from accessing their goods and services. There have been a number of high-profile lawsuits against companies that fail to make their websites accessible, particularly in regards to employment pages. For example, in 2018, Amazon was sued by a legally blind man who claimed that the company's job page was not compatible with the screen reader he used to browse the internet, in violation of his equal access rights.

As a result of these developments, companies in all sectors are starting to take WCAG standards more seriously. Ensuring that your product is accessible to all users is not only the right thing to do, but it is also a smart business decision. If you need help making your product more accessible, consider checking out our dedicated WCAG page or contacting us for more information.

Bottom Line

Implementing accessibility features into your app or website can be challenging, as it requires careful consideration of factors such as screen size, navigation, labels and customizations, layout consistency, color contrast, and more. However, it is both ethical and increasingly legally required to make digital content accessible to individuals with disabilities.

By ensuring that your product is accessible, you are not only making life easier for a wider range of users, but you are also opening up the possibility of tapping into a new audience and increasing revenue. In other words, making your product accessible is the right thing to do, and it can also have positive business benefits.

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