Building App Experiences for Disabled a Big Challenge for App Developers

According to the WHO, today more than 200 million adults of different ages are suffering from any sort of disability or physical challenges to accomplish their daily tasks in typical ways.

Mobile App Developers

It does not mean that they are devoid of the latest technological advancements. They too are using handheld devices for various purposes and some are critical of them.

Therefore, when a mobile application developer is thinking of the app audience, naturally these disables are becoming a part of it. Whether they are an as small portion or the big one, but they are users with unique needs for user experiences.

Therefore, each major mobile OS platform has issued specific guidelines for accessibilities for physically challenged users to offer them hardware as well as software experiences in the best way.

For the mobile developers, who are reluctant to implement those guidelines religiously and wish to cover disabled audience honestly in broad benefits, here are some tips to follow.

Know the Types of Disability
There are four major types of disability in general.

  1. Visual: It includes impaired vision, blindness – full or partial, color-blindness
  2. Hearing: Partial or complete deafness
  3. Motor Inability: It contains the defects in the control over moving organs like hands, legs, etc. It includes inability to use mouse or another operating method, sluggish responses, lack of fine motor control in activities
  4. Cognitive: It includes poor learning, impaired memory, unable to focus on voluminous information

If you are a mobile app developer with pure intentions to address accessibility issues for the app users with an above-given disability, you may have a hard time to address their unique needs in your app development without distracting the user experiences for the ordinary users.

Standardize Web or Mobile Content Accessibility
To address the accessibility issues, Apple Store, and Google Play marketplaces have published some guidelines, and we can summarize it all in the following way.

App Content Should Be Perceivable:
Today we have numerous ways to give access to the app content to the disabled users using hardware and software capabilities and advancements. Therefore, for the blind users, we can convert textual content into voice/speech using software capabilities.

Similarly, today we have software that can describe the image content in audio formats and let physically challenged users to enjoy photos in Facebook updates.

Operable Hardware:
Disabled mobile users with visual, motor, or cognitive imparity cannot use mobile devices in standard ways. Therefore, the majority of handheld devices have additional hardware as well as software (OS) components and inbuilt components designed specifically for the disable users.

Thus, mobile app developers should know how to leverage their features and functionality and make operating comfortably for physically challenged users. For instance, use of keyboard to consume content at slow pace and use of Siri-like voice recognition software to issue commands.

Comprehensibility:
Mobile app developers should make app content and app interactions easy to understand and should operate in the predictable ways. For instance, for colorblind users, avoid colors to highlight the important points or contexts and should give appropriate alternatives.

Robustness:
To provide excellent user experiences, mobile developers should maximize the compatibility with current and next user tools.

Precautions for the Mobile App Programmers
If mobile developers consider building the accessibility features as a barrier to creating alluring and engaging mobile applications for the excellent user experiences, they are making mistakes.

Today we have a number of tech alternatives to address the requirements of disabling users without missing robustness of the mobile app. For instance,

  • You can use other options instead of colors to differentiate content and other UI components for the colorblind users who are 1 in 12 persons in our average population.
  • For the contrast ratio, developers should follow the mobile OS guidelines, which prefer 4 to 1 ratio between the content and background.
  • Clearly define boundaries and visual labels to ease interactions with UI components.
  • Remove the default focus state of browsers and UI screens and provide your custom settings while coding the styles for the mobile app UI to ease the life of disabled.
  • Follow the UI design guidelines-updates, time-to-time by all respective mobile OS platforms and offer the maximum benefits to disabling the users of your app.
  • For speech recognition tool users like Dragon or Siri, never design links or other things, which are only possible to find through hover over it.
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