5 Step Mobile App Accessibility Checklist

Use this 5-step mobile app accessibility checklist to keep your company on the cutting edge, responsive to all your customers needs, and ensure the process simple for you.

Cameron Barrie Posted 21st September 2021
Articles, Knowledge

If you are looking to create a mobile app or website for your company, it is crucial that you consider accessibility. Using this 5-step mobile app accessibility checklist will keep your company on the cutting edge, responsive to all your customers needs, and ensure the process is a simple as possible for everyone. We’ve highlighted practical solutions you can implement so that every person can enjoy the experience of using your app.

Your mobile app should be designed to be accessible to people living with all forms of disability for one simple reason:

Reach.

The more people you can get using your app, the better for everyone, including your business.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO):

“Over one billion people – about 15% of the global population – live with some form of disability and this number is increasing.”

Meaning that your app could link up to a huge potential audience when it’s created with accessibility in as a first class citizen.

By removing barriers to access, you can I.N.C.R.E.A.S.E. your apps reach and impact effortlessly.

That is:

  • Increase your app’s download numbers
  • Nurture a healthy competitive environment in which people are encouraged to use your app over other alternative by being more inclusive
  • Create a more positive customer experience and drive your app’s conversion rates and user engagement
  • Reduce app uninstallation rates (this is a big one)
  • Empower people with disabilities to lead independent lives
  • Achieve better public relations
  • Solve the problem of not meeting accessibility standards
  • Ensure your app is more profitable.

The thing to remember is: the competition your app faces is fierce. So if you give up the competitive advantage of accessibility, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table.

Defining Mobile App Accessibility – What is it?

Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) defines “Mobile accessibility” as “making websites and applications more accessible to people with disabilities when they are using mobile phones and other devices.”

Therefore, mobile app accessibility means designing and developing an app that can be accessed by all people, irrespective of their abilities. People with disabilities will enjoy unrestricted access to goods and services provided by your app.

And with a mobile app accessibility checklist in place. Everything becomes clearer and simpler for you and your business.

The 5 Step Checklist you need to make you Mobile App Accessible

We’ve created the ultimate list of five things to be sure you to include when implimenting mobile app accessibility.

Each point is important and deserves your attention when creating or designing a mobile app, so you can create the best possible user experience everyone. Don’t let accessibility become an afterthought for design, that is when accessibility can become quite the implimentation challenge, by incorporting it into your app design approach from day one, it is much simpler to implement.

Step 1: Design with screen size in mind

While it may seem like a no-brainer, you should be sure to consider screen sizes when designing a mobile app to be inclusive.

This means designing for the smallest screen size of your target audience, and designing for the largest screen size.

That way you’re able to make sure that every single person can use your app, no matter what device they’re using.

But let’s face it: The screen size for most smartphones are relatively small with the average being just 4.7 to 6.5 inches.

So what can you do to make your mobile app more accessible for devices with smaller screen sizes?

Here are some tips:

  • Leverage features like dynamic type to ensure the user can control the size of typography.
  • On iOS Dark Mode is an accessibility feature, make sure your team designs and implements Dark Mode.
  • Keep the screen clutter-free by using only essential buttons and features
  • Use pictures instead of text wherever possible, but ensure they’re captioned so vision impaired users can still interact with them.

Make sure your team is aware of all the accessibility features on the platforms that they’re design for. You can find Apple’s features here, and Android’s features here.

Knowing what the device is and what the platform is capable of is crucial, you might be shocked to know how deep the accesibility features run on these platforms. By implementing the above tips into your mobile apps you will allow all your customers to experience your products or services right from the start – as soon as they download and install your app.

Step 2: Optimize App Content 

By content we mean the words, pictures, videos, and other media that you share on your app. These are what users sees on the screen or hear when they use your app.

The problem is this: some people  have difficulty reading large bodies of text. They might be vision impaired, struggle with dyslexia, or have some form of colour blindness. Some of your customers will be hearing impaired or deaf (video without captions aren’t helpful). Others will have cognitive disabilities that make it difficult to understand language and translate symbols into meaning.

So what can you do?

Some ideas include:

Avoid content cramming

A screen crammed with content is naturally overwhelming for people. Users would rather prefer to tap, scroll, and skim through an app than bury themselves in lots of text and images according to Standards for Writing Accessibly.

Layouts should be consistent

Avoid changing layouts for different types of content, and maintain a consistent layout across the app. Rather,

“components that are repeated across multiple pages should be presented in a consistent layout.”

as stipulated in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

For example: if you present an image and headline in the top left of the screen, it should be consistent throughout and on every page of the app that is displaying an image and headline. Don’t go designing tons of “unique” experiences, it just adds cognitive load to your users, and becomes confusing.

Being consistent not only reduces your cost to build the experience, it also makes it easier for people to access, and process the information.

Considerations for text (copy)

When it comes to the copy of your app, you need to be sure that  everything is written in a way that’s accessible for all. Plain language please, avoid industry jargon, it just confuses your customers (I’m looking at you finance industry).

For example, using a font that’s easy to read is crucial, because you want everyone, including those with impaired vision to be able to use your app with ease.

  • Support Dynamic Type: your users can increase or decrease the size of text for different sections or where there’s a lot of content.Make sure your layout supports this.
  • Presenting information in a logical order, chronological, alphabetical etc. You might be shocked to see the number of lists that are not ordered by anything you can clearly understand.
  • It’s also important to provide instructions for tasks that people might not know how to do, like deleting an account or changing a password.

Use alternative media formats like audio and video to communicate your message

Photos, videos and audio media are a great way to make your app content engaging and interactive.

For Instance:

A person who is dyslexic would prefer an image rather than text. While someone who is blind would prefer audio. And a person who is hearing impaired may not be able to hear a video or audio clip, but they can look at a photo or animations, which are visual.

When including media content, make sure to:

Provide subtitles for videos: Captions are a way to transcribe what’s happening in a video, and are a great way to make your app more inclusive. This is especially beneficial for those with hearing difficulties, but also people on a bus or a train, who don’t have their headphones with them (it benefits everyone).

Add captions for images:  This is an alternate text that provides the name of the photo and the description of what’s happening in the picture.

Include transcript for audio: A transcript is a word-for-word description of an audio recording. A person that struggles to hear can easily read the transcription.

Dealing with distraction: This is important. The app should have a mechanism that allows the user to pause, stop, or minimize images, videos, or audio that automatically starts, concurrently presented to the user alongside other content. Mobile apps are naturally distracted by other apps, push notifications, incoming phone calls etc, you app must deal with these in an intuitive and safe way

Ensuring your app is compatible with Voiceover 

Voiceover is a screen reader for iOS, macOS and tvOS that provides the ability for users to use a device without seeing it.

Providing alternative language support: Many people are bilingual, and might prefer to read or hear the content in different languages.

Let’s talk about color:

  • Design for colorblindness: Color is often used as an important design cue, but designers, and developers need consider people with colorblindness may not be able to distinguish between colors.
  • Also, make sure there’s enough contrast between foreground and background elements to ensure readability.
  • Avoid bright and contrasting colors that might dazzle the eyes of people with photosensitive epilepsy or other visual impairments, such as macular degeneration.
  • Test your app in different lighting conditions to ensure that it’s still easy to read and use, even if the light is poor or if the you’re in really bright sunlight.

Step 3: Perfect Touch and Gesture 

Mobile apps are designed to work on touch devices, many of these devices provide tactile feedback. That said, keep gestures simple: swiping, tapping and clicking. This includes: tap, double-tap and pinch.

Your app design should also work well for people who need to use their fingers in place of their sight.

At Bilue, we believe gestures should be used to provide a more streamlined user experience. So, when designing for a touchscreen you need to make UI elements large enough to press with a finger and to provide feedback such as vibration or sound when pressed.

  • Ensure the icons and text on screen are large enough and for those with impaired vision. Apple, for instance, recommends a minimum target size of 44 points wide 44 points tall.
  • The buttons for tapping or toggling on/off functions should also be visibly bold and make use of your keyline colour to distinguish them as tappable.
  • Make sure that all buttons are of sufficient size and contrast so they can be tapped easily.
  • Ensure the keyboard remains in an accessible area, scroll the screen for the user when the keyboard is displayed if needed.

Finally, gestures  should be implemented in a way that doesn’t conflict with the primary function of the operating platform. For example, swiping down on a list of items should refresh, and not do anything else, the expectation presented by the platform needs to be maintained for consistency.

Step 4: Make Navigation and Scrolling Seamless

Many apps have navigation and scrolling areas that are very small and do not provide adequate space for users to navigate with their fingers. This makes it difficult for many people, particularly those with disabilities, including those who are blind or impaired vision, and those with physical impairments likes parkinsons, to use these apps without fear.

To make it accessibility easier for users, follow these tips: 

  • Add a high contrast mode for users who are visually impaired 
  • Keeping important information in a position that makes it visible without scrolling can help people with low vision those with cognitive impairments.
  • Elements that perform the same function should be grouped together 
  • Ensure you’re using clear and concise names in your Navigtion Bars
  • Name your “back” buttons, don’t just use “Back”, they should indicate where you’re going back to (remember distractions on mobile mean people might’ve forgotten where they’re come from)
  • Ensure that your app can be used with one hand, this is generally helpful for everyone, but can be particularly important for people with disabilities.

Step 5: Ensure data input is easy

The importance of data is becoming increasingly apparent as more and more consumers turn to their mobile devices for all of their needs. 

However, despite its crucial nature we still see apps everyday that do not give consider people living with disabilities when it comes to forms and other types of data input.

Here are a few things to keep in mind to make it easy for people to to enter data when using your mobile app irrespective of ability.

Keep form design simple

A good rule of thumb for form design is to limit the number of input fields to what is absolutely required.

Too many inputs are difficult and at times quite literally impossible for a person living with a mobility impairment to access.

Use Autofill: Label your fields correctly, and the operating system will automatically provide autofill for your mobile app, and that is a great way to make it easier for people to enter data. Users are likely to complete an action – like sign-up or make a purchase when the operating system automates a portion of it for them.

Label form fields: For example, the password field should be labeled “Password”. The same goes for a text field labeled “Name”. Labeling text fields with words, numbers or symbols will let them know they are done entering data and can continue on to the next task.

Wrapping it up

Without doubt, mobile app accessibility is a great way to create an inclusive environment for people with disabilities which translates into many benefits to both  the individuals and the companies. It doesn’t matter the type of app you’re looking to build or your type of business, if you have an app  everyone can use, then it’s a win-win.

If you’re not sure how to create an app that is accessible, or if you want more information on the topic of creating mobile apps with accessibility in mind, we’ll be happy to provide you with more information. Reach out to us today!


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