Friday, December 7, 2018

Another year in mobile accessibility – what has changed and what is the same?

Taking stock on occasion of the International Day for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December.

On last year’s International Day for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (IDRPwD), we celebrated having passed the half million mark of monthly page-views on the GARI website ( This positive trend continued with over 650,000 monthly page-views over the past 6 months period and shows that people are still very much looking for information on accessibility features in devices such as mobile phones, tablets, wearables and Smart TVs. 

What else happened for mobile accessibility over the last 12 months? 

New standards…

New accessibility related standards have been published, like version 2.1 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) by W3C. This new WCAG 2.1 standard addresses items related to mobile devices (small screens and touch screens) that accommodate users with motor and dexterity disabilities, users with low vision, and users with cognitive disabilities. 

Other relevant standards published this year include a revised version of EN 301 549 defining the “Accessibility requirements suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services in Europe", and guidelines published by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for safe listening devices and systems (ITU H.870). 

New regulations…

After long discussions and many amendments, the European Accessibility Act (EAA) was adopted and joins the ranks of Europe’s accessibility directives, which include the Web Accessibility Directive and the Directives on Public Procurement. 

15+ events and international conferences…

In 2018, the MWF attended a wide range of conferences and events related to accessibility across the globe. From the Accessible Americas event in Latin America, to the M-Enabling Summit and Forum in the US and Germany, to conferences organized by the European Disability Forum in Austria, including expert meetings organized by the International Telecommunications Union and stakeholder meetings in South Africa and Taiwan. 

One common thread…

While we were presented with many innovative approaches in making ICT more accessible for users with disabilities, older users and anyone with specific accessibility needs, we also heard at every single one of these events that what we need foremost are information and education on accessibility features – both among the users who need these features as well as among the people who support and work with them. 

Taking this message to heart, we tried to simplify the information on accessibility features in mobile devices by creating a GARI Features Guide, trying to explain in a succinct way what kind of features exist in today’s devices and in what situation they might be helpful, as well as a table with GARI Accessibility Features at a Glance: 

But more remains to be done and we are taking on the challenge for the next 12 months to come up with better information material, to reach new stakeholder and user groups and find new ways of making all users aware of the great accessibility features we have, why they are important and how to use them. 

If you want to be part of this journey, follow us on Twitter (@GARIupdates), explore the GARI database and/or get in touch with us directly

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