- most accessible mainstream app
- most innovative app designed for people with disability or older Australians
- most accessible children's app
- most accessible gaming app
Wayne Hawkins, Disability Policy Advisor of ACCAN, has told us a bit about background and motivation of this initiative:
ACCAN's aim in organising the app challenge is “to raise awareness of issues people with disabilities and aging Australians face with apps that are not accessible”. Do you already see progress in mobile accessibility or is this still a new topic for most developers?
Wayne: Our experience is that many developers are unaware of how lack of accessibility can prevent many people from using mobile apps and technologies. There a many apps being developed for the general market which can also provide greater participation for people with disability if they are designed with usability awareness. The hope with our challenge is that it will raise awareness among developers to think about how people with different abilities could use the app, to ask questions like "Could I use this if I couldn’t see the screen? How would this work if I couldn’t hear the instructions?". Accessibility guidelines already exist for web design, many of those guidelines are transferable to mobile apps and devices making it relatively easy for developers to incorporate accessibility.
Do you have an estimate on how many % of apps are accessible of all the apps out there?
Wayne: No reliable data on how many apps are accessible. Anecdotally and from user feedback it seems the majority of mobile apps have accessibility issues which make them difficult to use for many people.
Apps can be submitted until 14 July 2014. How many submissions would you hope for? And what is the award for the lucky winner?
Wayne: We have had a lot of keen interest in the Challenge and hope to receive a manageable number of nominations for our first year. Right now the winning apps will receive what we hope will become the sought out, prestigious ACCAN/Australian Human Rights Commission Award; acknowledging excellence and best-practice in accessibility and usability. We are hoping to get sponsorship over time in order to support aspiring developers. Of course cash prizes are always appealing but we are also very interested in sponsorship which can provide developer mentoring, product development and marketing possibilities.
Who is evaluating the apps and what are the most important criteria besides the fact that the apps need to be accessible?
Wayne: We have had great support from accessibility groups and individuals. The judging panel is made up of 7 accessibility experts with a wide range of experience in telecommunications, web access and mobile technologies. The panel includes a number of highly skilled accessibility ‘evangelists’ who also have a disability. Obviously, our primary criteria for the apps is that they meet minimum levels of accessibility, in addition we are looking for apps which are innovative, fill a clear market need and provide value for many users.
What has been the most surprising accessibility feature in a mobile app that you have come across so far?
Wayne: I can’t really point to one feature but I will say the originality of idea and the variety of applications is really positive and exciting.
Nominations for the Apps for All Challenge 2014 close on Monday 14 July 2014.
For contact details and more information on how to submit apps, have a look here: http://www.accan.org.au/our-work/app