Sunday, August 2, 2015

Guiding app developers in ensuring accessibility

The Accessibility Testing Criteria that the App Quality Alliance (AQuA) has been working on, are published and ready to be used by all app developers who would like to ensure that their apps are accessible to persons living with vision, hearing, speech, cognition or mobility impairments. Feedback from a number of organisations of persons with disabilities, mobile industry, app developers and accessibility experts has been very valuable in developing these Testing Criteria.

“We are pleased to publish our first set of Accessibility Testing Criteria (for Android*). There is nothing like this out there in the industry and the reaction we have received tells us that this should be a great help to developers who want to make their apps widely accessible to all. The Testing Criteria are designed to guide developers to test their app from the point of view of people with restrictions in vision, hearing, dexterity or cognition and to test the developers' assumptions about their users. Some 20% of the world have some sort of restriction in ability and AQuA’s Accessibility Testing Criteria opens up that audience to every app that passes the tests,” says Martin Wrigley, executive director, AQuA.

Mobile accessibility is important given the impressive figure of one billion people (according to WHO) wo live with some sort of disability. But we also talk about a huge potential market for app developers. According to a report by Chris Lewis**, people with disabilities and their families and caretakers dispose of an annual budget of about 3.5 trillion dollars that they could potentially use on assistive and accessible technologies.

A good understanding of the motivation behind the Testing Criteria as well as its contents and intended use, can be gained by listening to the recording of AQuA's webinar. It explores the target market in terms of the number of people who have accessibility needs, dives deeper into how to use the Accessibility Testing Criteria and pulls out some examples of the specific tests.

The Testing Criteria have been broken down in different sections:

  • usage with limited vision (including usage without vision)
  • usage without perception of colour / minimising photosensitive seizure triggers
  • usage with limited hearing (including usage without hearing)
  • usage with limited manipulation or strength (including usage with limited reach)
  • usage with limited cognition 

The Testing Criteria then further look into a set of functional areas including navigation (how you move around within the app), control (how actions are executed within the app), feedback (how the user is informed that an app has started for example or that the app is doing something), display (how the app is laid out), any adjustments or settings (how the user can change to a high contrast display for example), and external devices (how the app can interact with switch controls etc.).

Download the Accessibility Testing Criteria: 

* Accessibility Testing Criteria for other platforms will follow.
 ** "Digitising the disabled billion. Accessibility gets personal." Chris Lewis, Lewis Insight, March 2015: