Mobile apps are revolutionising the way we communicate and conduct business. This will only continue to reach new heights in the future as we become more reliant on technology and devices. In this mobile-first world this means that your app must be accessible for all. The good news is that both iOS and Android offer a comprehensive range of accessibility features – they just need to be incorporated into your app.
As technology continues to evolve, and considering the fact that over 4.4 million people in Australia have some form of disability, that’s 1 in 5 people, it’s never been more important to ensure that platforms are accessible to all users. As tech-savvy generations grow older and continue to rely on technology in daily life it is vital that apps are still usable regardless of age or ability.
So, what does ‘accessibility’ really mean?
People should not be “excluded from using something on the basis of experiencing a disability.” Your app shouldn’t require a user with a disability to spend much more time or effort to complete tasks than a user without a disability and you must also consider environmental and situational factors.
It may surprise you that approximately 15% of the world’s population are living with a disability.
People with a disability are three times as likely to avoid an organisation and twice as likely to dissuade others because of an organisation’s negative diversity reputation. 36% of people with a disability are often treated less favourably than customers without a disability and 62% of SME’s have not done anything in the past 12 months to make it easier for customers with a disability.
An inaccessible app limits your audience, but it can also become a serious legal issue. In the year 2000, The Sydney Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games was successfully sued by Bruce Lindsay Maguire who had been blind since birth, for having an inaccessible website. Not providing accessible services can be considered discrimination and cause damage to your credibility.
There’s an extensive variety of disabilities to consider. ranging all the way from poor eyesight, to total immobility. For example, there are approximately 300 million people worldwide who are colourblind and 15-20% of the world’s population have some kind of language-based learning disability. It’s important to consider how the usability of your app may differ for all groups of people and design your app accordingly.
Due to environmental and situational factors, anybody can experience a degree of difficulty when using their devices. For example, when we are injured, carrying a baby, working under difficult conditions, multitasking or have a language gap.
The image below shows the different issues users may have relating to the senses when accessing a device.
Environmental and situational factors are particularly relevant for employees in the field. Devices are used across an expansive variety of workplaces and apps are relied upon to work efficiently regardless of the situation. Those who are required to wear safety equipment such as gloves or safety glasses may be restricted in access to their mobile and those who are required to multitask in the field may struggle without hands free options. Those working under loud conditions in construction might not be able to hear audio from their device and those outside in the elements might not be able to see their screen well in the sun or the rain. How can your app support these scenarios to ensure employees are able to use it anywhere, anytime?
Accessibility issues are often only discovered after testing has been completed in real scenarios. Building your app with a trustworthy, experienced developer is the safest way to ensure thorough and timely testing is completed throughout development. They will work with you to ensure your app is functioning with the highest level of accessibility possible and know exactly what features will be needed for your specific project.
At Bilue, we know accessibility and we take it seriously. Check out this article about the ABC NEWS app we worked on that won the Accessible App of the Year and the Government App of the Year at the Australian Access Awards.
If you have any questions about accessibility or want to know your options for your app, get in touch with us at [email protected].