Mobile app accessibility is perhaps the number one factor determining your app’s success. It’s because you don’t know who will use your app once ready. There is a large number of your users who are disabled, having motor, vision, learning, and auditory problems.
And they have the right and need mobile app accessibility just like everyone else. And this is why to have an accessible app; you need to work at removing barriers and thus ensure everyone can use your app and its technology.
Without doing so, you miss a large percentage of your audience.
So if you are building an app, it is a good rule to keep a few design principles in mind while making your app. They will help to optimize the users’ experience and ensure maximum app reach and usage for everyone.
16 easy tips for mobile app accessibility features
The following seven tips will help ensure optimal mobile app usage and accessibility:
1. Always add subtitles to videos
As there is a chance that some of your users may have audio problems, don’t forget to include captions and subtitles in all your videos. This feature will prove most beneficial to users with hearing difficulties.
It also proves beneficial for those who must watch the video in privacy without disturbing others. Examples are users watching videos at the library and users watching videos while kids are sleeping. And those watching something in a noisy bar may not be able to hear the videos.However, make sure all the added subtitles comply with WCAG standards like:
- Ensuring all subtitles are synchronized with audio and video content
- Ensuring you give readers enough time to read the subtitles
- Ensuring the background and text comply with WCAG guidelines.
Learn more about video accessibility
2. Use the correct sized tap targets
Any mobile phone user knows how irritating it is to tap the wrong buttons while using apps. You can avoid this problem by providing mobile apps with the right-sized tap targets. Work at adjusting the tap target size so that those with low vision and motor impairments don’t have problems like having to tap tiny buttons to access mobile apps.
3. Multiple options to communicate information
Offering multiple modes of communication increases your mobile app accessibility because you never know how your users communicate. There are many aspects to consider while designing your screens, like changing colors, adding messages, and VoiceOver support.
So offering multiple communication options go a long way to ensure your users enjoy your apps.
4. Have a consistent layout
Complex interfaces can make things difficult for users while accessing your apps. Maintaining WCAG consistency on different screens makes it easier for people to identify and use other components with similar functionalities.
And to maintain consistency in layout, you will have to standardize fonts and colors on different screens.
5. Clearly explain errors and how to fix them
It is always better if all WCAG error messages are visible in the field. And don’t forget to indicate all the areas in red while clearly describing each problem. And the best way to do this is by avoiding using text and icons to explain the errors.This is because visually impaired users will not be able to see the color or know where the problems are. So you will have to describe all of this clearly, and the best way to do this is with the help of the appropriate text instead images.
6. Use only simple and slow animations
If your app includes animations, avoid using animations that tend to flicker and flash a lot. There is the risk of it triggering convulsions or fits in users with cognitive disabilities who are sensitive to motion effects.
You can avoid this by using animations or videos without flashes or sudden color changes. And which do not blink more than thrice a second.
7. Use more readable texts
You can improve your mobile app accessibility to people with dyslexia or vision problems by providing copies that screen readers will easily understand. This means you need to:
- Maintain a line spacing of 1.5 times the paragraph’s width
- Maintain at least size one space between letters
- Use simple fonts, preferably native system fonts like Roboto for android users and San Francisco for iOS. These fonts help improve mobile accessibility with better font and text understanding.
8. Don’t depend only on color to indicate important copy
You can highlight necessary copies using other graphic resources besides color. Remember, colorblind and visually impaired users cannot identify specific colors or a particular color scheme on their phones.
So they may, in the process, miss any vital text you highlight using hyperlinks and buttons. The best way to avoid any confusion is to use any other form of indicators like ‘Link to highlighted text.
9. Organize content using the help of headlines
Users interact better with your content if you use headlines and titles to organize your app content in a logical order. Besides, the proper use of headlines makes the app more accessible, improves user experience, and provides users with a more accessible application.
10. Label text fields to help visually impaired users
Make sure all your form input fields have labels. These labels act as placeholders that will anyway disappear upon entering information. Besides, the tags help users understand the request better and are especially useful for those who do not understand the form.
11. Maintain a high color contrast ratio
According to web content accessibility guidelines, your text should have a minimum color contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for standard text and 3:1 for large text. It will help make your app accessible in two ways.It will help increase visibility to users with other visual impairments like color blindness and make it easier for users to read the touch screen even in bright sunlight. Also, make it a point to maintain an efficient color contrast, like using dark text on a light background or vice versa.
Last but not least, ensure the UI has large font text sized between 14px and 18px.
12. Ensure your app supports a dynamic type and auto-layout
Dynamic type lets users increase or decrease the font text size as required. Your app will not only adjust accordingly, but with auto-layout, your app ends up looking just as you had anticipated.
Besides, it also lets users select a preferred font size they are visually comfortable with.
13. Maintain effective communication with users
Always talk with your users to learn more about their experience and how they interact with their mobile phones. You can use their feedback to make relevant changes and improve app accessibility standards and features.
Mention in plain language how and where consumers can contact you if they encounter any mobile app accessibility issues. And don’t worry, you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting as the phone’s OS has inbuilt accessibility options. Users can access these options as long as they follow their application requirements.
14. Use a simple user interface for increased mobile accessibility
A simple UI is always better because it promotes a better understanding of mobile apps and features. So instead of having a complex and confusing user interface, use something simple that resonates with users of all ages and abilities.
- Using a simple color scheme that doesn’t overwhelm users
- Using simple fonts instead of complicated, cursive fonts
- Using basic UI principles like flexibility, user control, and familiarity.
Remember, you do not want people to opt not to use your mobile apps only because of a cluttered and confusing UI!
15. Don’t overcomplicate gestures
It is increasingly apparent that gestures are fun and unique, and they can even make things easier and save the users’ time. However, remember that it takes time for users to learn and discover the gestures.
Some users may even find it difficult to memorize them, and some may realize they require additional skills. Besides, custom gestures are often not consistent across different mobile apps.
So if you opt to use gestures, they should be used as an additional accessory. And it is also better to have a simple alternative available to let users perform the same procedure without gestures.
It would help if you were extra careful while using gestures because many apps have features like VoiceOver, which is gesture driven. So there is the possibility of some of your gestures conflicting with some VoiceOver gestures.
At times, the gestures may even have a customized VoiceOver version, making it difficult for mobility issues to perform some complex gestures.
16. Use VoiceOver to audit and test
Another essential tip to improve mobile app accessibility is to test your app using the VoiceOver feature. This means that to test your app by doing things like ensuring you can:
- Navigate all through the app
- Hear all the app text
- Tap each tappable item
- Hear all the images with information
Most of the time, you will find that you only have to make VoiceOver adjustments to interpret elements correctly. You may sometimes have to mark some elements as accessibility elements in case VoiceOver ignores them.
While these changes won’t take much of your time, they will improve the user experience for your visually and motor-impaired users.
ADA compliance for improved digital accessibility
These 16 tips will go a long way in improving digital accessibility issues. You no longer will have to hear complaints of users finding it difficult to access their downloaded apps on their mobile devices.
Though you have many options available to improve your mobile app’s accessibility features, ADASiteCompliance is rated the #1 place for ADA website compliance.
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The ADA prohibits any private businesses that provide goods or services to the public, referred to as “public accommodations,” from discriminating against those with disabilities. Federal courts have ruled that the ADA includes websites in the definition of public accommodation. As such, websites must offer auxiliary aids and services to low-vision, hearing-impaired, and physically disabled persons, in the same way a business facility must offer wheelchair ramps, braille signage, and sign language interpreters, among other forms of assistance.
All websites must be properly coded for use by electronic screen readers that read aloud to sight-impaired users the visual elements of a webpage. Additionally, all live and pre-recorded audio content must have synchronous captioning for hearing-impaired users.
Websites must accommodate hundreds of keyboard combinations, such as Ctrl + P to print, that people with disabilities depend on to navigate the Internet.
Litigation continues to increase substantially. All business and governmental entities are potential targets for lawsuits and demand letters. Recent actions by the Department of Justice targeting businesses with inaccessible websites will likely create a dramatic increase of litigation risk.
Big box retailer Target Corp. was ordered to pay $6 million – plus $3.7 million more in legal costs – to settle a landmark class action suit brought by the National Federation of the Blind. Other recent defendants in these cases have included McDonald’s, Carnival Cruise Lines, Netflix, Harvard University, Foot Locker, and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Along with these large companies, thousands of small businesses have been subject to ADA website litigation.
Defendants in ADA lawsuits typically pay plaintiff's legal fees, their own legal fees for defending the litigation, and potential additional costs. In all, the average cost can range from tens of thousands of dollars, to above six figures. There are also high intangible costs, such as added stress, time and human capital, as well as reputational damage. Furthermore, if the remediation is incomplete, copycat suits and serial filers can follow, meaning double or triple the outlay. It's vital to implement a long-term strategy for ensuring your website is accessible and legally compliant.