7.13.2021

Accessibility at App Shack

Sebastian Rautila and Jesse Beckenson
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Summary

Developing apps with accessibility in mind makes for better apps and allows us to reach a broader target audience. For App Shack, we understand the value and need for accessibility. As a part of our work with clients, we offer a free accessibility analysis/audit.

Using web and mobile apps is essential to many parts of today’s society. As apps are getting more and more central to all business cases, we as businesses have good reason to consider all potential users of our apps.

Creating accessible apps is not just about accommodating disabilities — which is essential! — it’s also for helping older people use our apps, making the app more usable in special situations such as poor visibility, working in noisy places, and making the app easy to use on different devices like screen readers. In general, creating accessible apps is about making our apps more usable.

Including the ethical perspective and the substantial brand value, there is a strong business case for building accessible apps. A well built, accessible app will reach a broader target audience and also make it easier to use in general. If we build for the people in the margins, we end up building for everyone.

For public actors (offentliga aktörer), accessibility is both an improvement and a legal requirement. In Sweden since 2018, the Webbtillgänglighetsdirektivet legally binds all web apps to meet specific accessibility requirements.

Some ways we can build our apps with everyone in mind:

Colour-blindness

  • Use accessible colour palettes
  • Don’t rely on colour alone — use size, labels, texture, and other design elements to communicate an element’s meaning

Partial vision impairment

  • Make sure the app visuals scale up well when a user’s settings are for large text
  • Offer a high-contrast design scheme
  • Make buttons large enough

Total vision impairment

  • Make sure your markup is semantic so a screen reader can make sense of it
  • Use descriptive alt text and aria labels
  • Obvious and easy navigation

Cognitive impairment

  • Use hierarchy for content structure to break things up
  • Write clear, concise content

Fine motor control

  • Use white space judiciously
  • Make clickable areas large and obvious


And for all of these, the most crucial part of making an accessible app is testing. Test with your primary user base and with those at the margins of it. Using the correct tooling, much of this testing can be automated while developing an app.

What are some ways you’ve seen accessibility in mobile apps and web done right?

PS — Wondering if your app is accessible? Let’s find out together! App Shack is now offering free accessibility analyses to our clients to make a positive impact in this space. Contact us, and let’s get started!


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