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Three Tips for Mobile Accessibility

Here are three common issues we come across when helping our clients make sure their apps and mobile sites are accessible to people of all abilities.

Imagine that you’re on a train and have some time to kill.  Or that you're lost and need directions to a new restaurant.  What would you do?  Chances are your trusty smart phone would give you access to the wonders of the internet.  But how frustrated and annoyed would you feel if you couldn’t access your favourite website or app?  This is the reality for many disabled people and we are on a mission to change it.    

There are ethical and business benefits

Accessibility optionsAs we all saw during the Paralympic games this summer, the needs, motivations and wants of disabled people are exactly the same as everyone else.  Smart phones, mobile websites and apps, play an integral part in all our lives. 

Apple have clearly realised the ethical as well as the business benefits of making their products accessible as they now include assistive technologies like VoiceOver on their iPhones by default.  After all, according to the Institute of Employment Studies, there are nearly 10 million people with disabilities in the UK with a spending power of nearly £50 billion.  You wouldn’t want to turn away these users now would you?     

Using our expert knowledge and guidelines we have conducted a number of expert accessibility reviews of mobile sites/apps for clients recently, as well as talking to disabled people about the issues they face while using mobile sites and apps.

Here are three of the most common problems we come across, and how you can avoid them.    

1. Think about page designs and layouts

clear action buttonsThe available screen on mobile devices is smaller than on a desktop or laptop and differs between products.  To make them more accessible you can:

  • Simplify text and avoid large blocks of text - particularly important for those with dyslexia and some other learning difficulties
  • Style key calls to action appropriately, for example the ‘buy’ button, and make them easy to find
  • Make sure target areas are big enough for people with mobility impairments to use.

Remember that your users will have a range of needs (for example, those with vision impairments will look at a zoomed-in version of your site, while those who are blind will use screen readers).  So the design, content and layout you choose needs to work for all these users.

2. Code page elements correctly

It is essential that developers adhere to standard coding practice when they develop mobile apps and sites.  This is because assistive technologies like mobile screen readers rely on the underlying code to decipher the content and structure of the pages.  For instance, buttons, headings and form fields must be coded as such – simply giving them the right visual appearance does not make them accessible. 

3. Use colour wisely

accessible use of colourColour is an important part of web design and can increase aesthetic appeal, usability, and accessibility. However, people with partial vision, and many older users do not see colour well.  In fact, it is widely believed that 1 in 12 people have some sort of colour deficiency.  To ensure that these users (and those who are blind) are able to use the site and apps, ensure that colour alone is not used to convey information, indicate an action, prompt a response, or distinguish a visual element.

These are just a few of the things that you can do to make your mobile services more accessible.  If you are trying to integrate accessibility into your mobile designs, we may be able to help you.  Please contact us, we’re always happy to chat through your ideas. 

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