Accessibility & UX Design: Building Apps for All

December 2, 2020

Did you know that over one billion people are estimated to live with a disability of some form? Staggeringly, the number of disabled people works out at around 15% of the world’s total population — and includes a range of disabilities from blindness, deafness, and speech to neurological impairments.

 

Looking through glasses

In 21st century life, technology and the internet have become a fact of life that many of us take for granted. For people living with disabilities, being able to effectively access the online world is a life-enhancing way to make tasks simpler, exchange information more easily and solve everyday problems.

When it comes to turning digital accessibility into a reality, developers have a responsibility to build digital content, software and mobile apps for those with disabilities.

Join us as we take a deep dive into accessibility, user-experience, and the importance of building web and mobile apps for all.

 

What is Accessibility in UX?

It’s not uncommon for accessibility to sometimes be confused with usability. After all, both are vital parts of user experience (UX) design. Usability is primarily concerned with the effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction of the user’s experience. On the flip side, accessibility aims to ensure that all users are able to access an equal user experience when using a digital product or service.

UX Designer wearing glasses looking at screen

 

Despite the fact that accessibility is a critical factor that impacts the design and user interface, many brands still overlook it. Interestingly, some countries and regions (including the UK and EU) have penalties for companies who fail to create accessible designs.

At more than just a legal level, accessibility serves to improve SEO, enhance the public perception of your brand as well as help your organisation reach a greater number of users across platforms and devices.

 

What are the Benefits of Web Accessibility?

Accessible digital products are also the most usable digital products for everyone, not just those with disabilities. If a web or mobile app has been developed to work for someone with a disability there’s a strong chance it’ll be much clearer and straightforward to navigate. Across the board, your users will reward you by being more likely to return.

By prioritising the accessibility of your software product, you’ll likely benefit from a higher number of active users. Enabling visitors with disabilities to experience your product or service in the same way as other users will give your product a healthy boost. Better yet, you’ll always have peace of mind that your brand complies with legal regulations.

 

The Features of a UX Accessibility Checklist

To ensure your new web or mobile app is accessible for all, you’ll have to consider a number of different design and structural elements.

You should aim to check the following essential UX accessibility items off your list:

  • Optimise your digital product for different types of disabilities. For people with auditory disabilities make captions or transcripts available, and for people with cognitive disabilities ensure that navigation is simple, layouts of pages are consistent and language is easy to understand.
  • Add alt text to any images. While they create more engaging user interfaces, Images, illustrations and icons can all be used as instructions and helpful information.
  • Buttons and links that facilitate seamless user interactions. Typically, buttons trigger interactions on the same page, while a link navigates to a different page or section (and has a contextual menu). For that reason, these elements shouldn’t be treated and displayed the same way because it’s pretty much guaranteed to cause confusion for users listening to voice-over and using a keyboard.
  • Make sure that text and design elements have proper size and space between them. Lack of space can cause errors and decrease the accessibility of your digital product. Microsoft advises that spacing should be at least 8 pixels, while Google recommends keeping 32 pixels space between different elements.
  • Colours and contrast ratio is key — especially for those with visual disabilities. At the very least, the contrast between text and background must be readable for anyone with visual impairments. When developing a web or mobile app, keep in mind that content should be readable even after the user makes brightness adjustments in their operating systems or web browsers.

 

 

Harnessing the Power of Technology to Improve User Experience

Here at GearedApp, our team are always looking for new opportunities to improve the digital experience of all of our end-users. For example, in mobile app accessibility, screen readers and audio aids are often used to compensate for the missing visual information or to assist people with visual impairments.

As well as that, speech recognition technology in mobile apps and smart home devices are a recent game-changer for people living with disabilities. Notably, smart home device adoption continues to rise in the disabled community, and technologies that use voice over text are fast-becoming a way for people to interact with content.

As an emerging technology, we’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to embracing the power of voice control. Being able to interact with digital content and products via voice is just one more way for individuals with disabilities to augment their lives in the online world.

 

User Accessibility and The Role of Tech for Good

One of the core values of Tech for Good involves making a sustainable and scalable impact for people, including those with disabilities. To put the power of Tech for Good into practice, companies should aim to prioritise their users at the centre of everything they do.

The agile design approach allows us to form a collaborative working environment from start to finish. Digital products can be created in a way that allows us to iterate, test early, and deliver meaningful social progress. Our team has seen time and time again that with an agile approach, accessibility is never an afterthought.

Why Does GearedApp Take User Accessibility Needs So Seriously?

The GearedApp team put people and ethics at the heart of our work. When it comes to delivering digital solutions, people are all that really matters. We believe that with the power of tech we can do great things for humankind.

We seek to build innovative solutions through our unique exploratory process and work with our clients to develop solutions to even the most complex problems. The entire team at GearedApp work hard to deliver a unified and accessible experience for all users.

Hop on over to our accessible technology page to discover more about inclusive design, better UX, and assistive technology at GearedApp.

 

Build Accessible Apps with GearedApp

Our friendly team of pros will be with you every step of the way, from our initial sit-down chat all the way to releasing the finished product. Discover our process to find out more about how GearedApp works.

Get in touch today to find out how we can help turn your awesome ideas into a digital reality.

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