Importance of accessibility in mobile apps

Importance of accessibility in mobile apps

According to WHO, there are 1 billion people with disabilities. That roughly translates to 15% of the global population.

Now, unless you plan on ignoring this massive number of potential users for your mobile app, you need to focus on making your app 'accessible.'

When you do that, your app can reach a wider audience, which in turn will boost the download rates and ultimately improve your bottom line.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of other reasons why you must focus on accessibility while designing your app.

In this post, we will delve into those reasons, but first, let us understand what exactly we mean by mobile app accessibility.

What is accessibility in mobile app development?

Accessibility for mobile apps refers to a set of established practices that must be followed in designing applications for smartphones, tablets, and wearables. The goal of accessibility on mobile devices is straightforward - to ensure that your app can be used by millions of people across the globe who have some form of disability. Here are some types of disability that you must consider while designing a mobile app -

  • Visual disability - It could range from difficulty in distinguishing certain colors to complete blindness.
  • Hearing disability - It could range from difficulty in hearing sounds in certain frequencies to being fully deaf.
  • Cognitive Impairment - Prevents people from following or understanding multiple elements or components in an app.
  • Mobility-related issues - Prevents people from navigating across the app through complex gestures, taps, and swipes.
  • Learning-related issues - Also called invisible disability, these issues are primarily related to the users being illiterate or digitally challenged.

Why make your mobile app accessible?

Now that you know what we mean by mobile accessibility, let us understand the different reasons you must focus on mobile accessibility -

#1 Everyone gets to experience your app

This is probably the simplest reason why you must focus on mobile accessibility - you are ‘morally required’ to do so. In other words, as a responsible global citizen of the world, you must ensure that everyone in this world has a fair chance to enjoy or experience your product or service. A physical or cognitive disability should not be the reason for people to stay away from your app. Long story short, an accessible mobile app helps fuel the progress towards a fairer society that doesn’t exclude people with disabilities from enjoying the benefits of digital tools.

#2 Improved brand image

When you make your mobile application accessible to everyone, you send a strong message to the world that here’s a brand:

  • That keeps users at the focal point.
  • That offers unbiased access to their products or services to everyone on this planet.
  • That will go to any extreme to make the user’s journey comfortable.

When users get to know about such a brand, they are going to talk. They will promote your app rampantly across their circle. You will start scaling up in no time, thanks to positive word-of-mouth marketing and surging brand perception among your target audience.

According to the Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you are prohibited from discriminating against anyone on disability grounds. It also states that they (people with disabilities) must have full and equal rights to access all the goods, services, facilities, privileges, etc., that are enjoyed by the rest. So unless you want to spend years fighting litigations in court, you need to make sure that your app is accessible to everyone.

#4 Get a competitive edge

According to the 3rd Annual State of Accessibility Report by Diamond, only 29% of Android paid apps, and 35% of iOS paid apps have passed their accessibility testing. In other words, most of your competitors have not made their app accessible to those 1 billion people yet. This gives you a great competitive edge and an early mover’s advantage to tap those audiences.  

How to design your mobile app to be accessible?

Here are some ways in which you can embrace mobile accessibility -

  • Color contrast: According to WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), you are recommended to keep the contrast levels between the text and background to at least 4:5:1. When you maintain this ratio, the content will be easy to read for those who cannot see the complete color spectrum.

Here are some color combinations that fall under this ratio -

Image Source

  • Audio descriptions: Make sure that you provide audio descriptions for every visual information available on your app. This best practice will help people with visual impairments to understand what you are trying to convey to the users.
  • Labels: There are many screen readers that help visually challenged people by reading out the contents on an app. This makes it very important to label all your buttons, text boxes, and other action-inducing elements so that the screen reader can do their job. Avoid adding imagery, visual elements, or logos to elements, as it can prevent the screen readers from doing their job. If needed, you can add the labels in such a way that they are hidden visually but can be read by a screen reader.
  • Gestures: Users only use gestures like taps and scrolls to navigate across an app. This makes it very important for an app developer to focus on these aspects of the app and ensure that it is easy for everyone. For instance, you must ensure that a simple finger tap can access every component in the app. Multiple taps, complex scrolling, or pinching can be daunting for those with motor impairments.

Conclusion

Many app owners and developers avoid dealing with mobile accessibility because it takes time, money, and resources to adopt it. They see it as an optional feature. This is a BIG mistake. Accessibility is a vital part of any mobile app and should be adopted no matter what. As you have seen in this post, it comes with an array of benefits that you can enjoy right away by incorporating accessibility-related features.

If you haven’t started building your app yet and wondering where to start, you can try Vajro. We are an instant app factory that can help build your accessible app in hours. To know more about Vajro, book a demo now.

//