What Is Mobile App Accessibility?
At its core, mobile app accessibility is about ensuring everyone can use your mobile app. Accessibility features improve how users interact with apps at a fundamental level, from their favorite social media platform to their note taking app. Mobile app accessibility is the web version of a wheelchair ramp or elevator. It is foundational to user-friendly user interfaces (UIs).
That said, mobile app accessibility is a multifaceted problem that requires combinations of solutions to implement successfully. Solutions for the hearing impaired and the visually impaired are going to be very different. Part of developing your mobile app’s accessibility is selecting the right features to cover your users’ needs.
Accessibility features give users with disabilities a way to interact with an application, but they don’t stop there. They actually allow any user to tailor their device and it’s UI to their individual preferences, making it possible for users to connect with your app and brand in a way that is personal to them.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the integral elements of mobile app accessibility and why it should be a part of your app development project.
Why Mobile App Accessibility Matters
It’s easy to develop an app and assume it will meet everyone’s needs. We can see from laws like the ADA that it takes more work to include people with disabilities, but it’s well worth it.
61 million people, 26% of all adults, in the United States have some form of disability, according to the CDC. That means you could be missing out on a quarter of your potential customer base by overlooking accessibility features. That’s why working with a mobile app development company with expertise in accessibility, like Five Pack, is so important.
Who Needs an Accessible Mobile App?
10.8 percent of people with a disability have trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions. The best thing you can do for people with cognitive disabilities is to simplify your interface.
Another 10.5 percent of people with a disability have a serious hearing difficulty or difficulty seeing. To accommodate those who struggle with hearing, you would need to create different ways for app users to navigate audio content and engage with it, like subtitles. For those with poor eyesight, integrating dynamic type size support and display zoom can assist with readability.
Let’s go back to that wheelchair ramp example from earlier. People who use wheelchairs aren’t the only ones who use wheelchair ramps. So do people pushing strollers and dollies. The benefits of integrating accessibility features go beyond including people with disabilities in every situation. Anyone can benefit from accessibility features.
Meeting WCAG Standards
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) developed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) through an open process and were revised in 2008 (WCAG 2.0). While these standards aren’t a part of the law in the U.S., lawmakers and disability advocacy organizations are slowly integrating them into the ADA. They have been written into law in the European Union, parts of Europe, and Australia.
The four fundamental principles for assessing success are Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust. Each of those guiding elements then falls into one of three success levels: A through AAA.
Level A is the lowest level. Apps that are level A meet basic requirements for displaying their web content. The next level, AA, corresponds to having level A success and beyond. Finally, level AAA means that web content meets the highest accessibility standards in WCAG.
Tips to Make Your App More Accessible
Disability inclusion can take a lot of forms, so here are a few tips to show you how your app can be more accessible to users.
1. Make It Easy to Customize Views
Mobile app accessibility comes in a lot of forms. Creating a few simple customizations can help people with a variety of vision issues. Making color-deficient-friendly color palettes, text that responds to a user’s dynamic type size preference, and supporting dark mode can all make your content easier to view.
2. Simplify Your Interface
Cognitive disabilities like Alzheimer’s and ADHD can make it hard for users to navigate an interface, but streamlining potential routes will help them get what they need out of your app. Clearly labeled buttons and intuitive designs will keep your interface intuitive and easy to use.
3. Allow Users to Control Pacing
Elements that change too quickly can leave users with cognitive difficulties struggling to follow. Making it easy for users to slow or speed up visual and audio elements can help them interact with your app on their terms.
4. Make Your Content Screen-Reader Friendly
Screen-readers can be useful for various reasons, from serving people with visual impairments to people with dyslexia and other learning disorders. A built-in dictation feature is another great way to make content more accessible for people who may struggle to read it.
5. Outsource Your App Development to a Mobile App Development Company.
Five Pack has years of experience guiding entrepreneurs to Fortune 100 companies through the process of deciding which accessibility features to support and implementing them with success. We stay on the cutting edge of mobile app development and accessibility, and have the end-to-end development capabilities you need to transform your vision into a reality.
How to Find Mobile App Development Services
It’s one thing to hire a mobile app developer, but a completely different thing to find a partner. Mobile app development quality can vary widely, and timezone and language barriers for overseas developers can further complicate the process. An app is an investment, and it’s critical to make that investment with a team you trust. Here are a few important things to look for.
1. Review Their Past Clients
You’ll want to start by exploring portfolios, case studies, and reviews. Do they have a history of success working with companies like yours? Were clients happy with their professionalism and friendliness? What case studies can they provide that showcase the results their work brought to a client?
2. Look for an Accessibility Expert
A team that is already familiar with disability accessibility and innovating to ensure their products cover broad needs won’t have trouble doing the same for you. They’ll be ready to implement the right features the right way, and help you assess the corresponding costs/benefits.
One key question to ask in your conversations is, “What is the most recent app you’ve built that included accessibility features, and what were those features?”
3. Consider Your Compatibility
Look for an organization that can tailor their services to your needs. Consider asking a few questions like this to help determine compatibility:
- Do you offer end-to-end development?
- Is your team composed exclusively of onshore talent or do you use offshore developers?
- Do you offer maintenance agreements and/or monthly retainers once an app is released?
Remember, developing an app isn’t just about the experience for your end-user; it’s also about your experience along the development journey, and finding an agency with the values and processes that align with yours will make all the difference.
4. Request Estimates
You need to begin the mobile app development journey with the end in mind. A team should be able to provide you with a ballpark estimate after you provide some details about your project. Be leery of companies that give detailed estimates without first going through a discovery phase.
The Best Company for Mobile App Accessibility in App Development
At Five Pack, we help leading brands build the future of their industry through great mobile apps. With over a decade of experience in the mobile app development industry, we are experts in accessibility and creating engaging user experiences that drive results. See our case studies to learn more.
Five Pack – Your Mobile App Accessibility Partner
Integrating accessibility features into your mobile app development roadmap can transform how people interact with your app and increase your reach and retention. Whether you’re making it easier for people to view your app’s content or streamlining your controls, everyone can benefit from accessibility features, and Five Pack is the perfect partner to make that happen.
Contact us today for a free consultation and estimate.