Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mobile accessibility: step by step

Mobile accessibility is tricky as it needs for three dimensions to work together: hardware, software and third party applications (apps). While the hardware has evolved to the point that a great number of mobile phones and tablets integrate accessibility features by default, and also the major mobile software platforms cater for basic accessibility, apps still seem to lag behind. Out of the thousands of apps in the app stores, only a minority is accessible.

Is your app accessible? Soon, it will be easy to check  

To help remedy this problem and raise awareness amongst developers about the importance of making their apps accessible to all, including persons with disabilities, the App Quality Alliance (AQuA) and the Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF) are working on a set of Accessibility Testing Criteria for apps. The Testing Criteria will allow for app developers to run through a checklist that can help them verify whether their app is accessible to persons with vision, hearing, speech, mobility or cognitive impairments. 

Some of the tests check for example if the app can be used with screen readers like TalkBack, if audio prompts are available for all content (including pictures, graphs….) or if on the other hand the app can be used entirely without audio, if the app offers different contrast levels, if the app offers alternative inputs for navigation for persons with mobility issues or a simple mode for persons with cognitive impairments. 

The Testing Criteria are currently submitted for stakeholder feedback. If you would be interested in getting a preview and test the criteria for yourself, please get in touch at sabine(.)lobnig(@) 

About AQuA
The App Quality Alliance (AQuA) is a global association focused on helping the industry continually improve and promote mobile app quality, across all platforms. It is led by the Core Members: AT&T, Motorola,  and Microsoft, , who work together on projects of mutual interest, thereby minimising the work needing to be done by each one. AQuA also acts as a referral and endorsement body, accrediting the quality of players (specifically developers and testing service providers) within the industry, and also their apps. 

About the MMF
The Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF) is an international association of telecommunications equipment manufacturers with an interest in mobile or wireless communications, including the manufacturers of mobile handsets and devices, as well as the manufacturers of network infrastructure. The association has a scientific purpose. Its members include Alcatel OneTouch, Apple, Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, LG, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, Motorola Solutions, Samsung and Sony.