Mobile Accessibility Challenges

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What challenges do companies face with mobile accessibility and what mobile accessibility information is not available?


  • Libraries are large and takes a lot of bandwidth
  • Custom widgets are challenge
  • Different interaction paradigm (no longer keyboard focused)
    • Touch area (size)
  • Testing is complex - many combinations and variations
    • Baseline needs to be defined and whether or not this is sufficient
    • Consider browsers, OS version, AT and combinations of AT usage
  • Keyboard interfaces are built into iOS, Android (dPad), and Windows Phone (starting with 8.1) / Windows 8
    • Developers are forgetting that they are there
    • Even if it is keyboard accessible, touch vs. mouse cause usability problems
    • Also speech control is not really available
  • Developers need requirements and guidelines to code apps to
  • Actual devices are required for testing as virtual device emulators (DeviceAnywhere, etc.) do not support gestures or Bluetooth keyboards
  • iOS Read all from current location or from top read things differently than touch and explore
  • Many developers are unfamiliar with Accessibility coding requirements
  • 3rd party development tools that allow "one code" for multiple native apps often do not support accessibility constructs for the supported OS's
  • Companies feel WCAG 2.0 is only for web and are not on board with Mobile APP Accessibility as just as important
  • Development for separate platform, and identification of what the features of the different mobile platform are, so people can make good choices
  • Feature Conflict
  • The browsers may want to implement things ahead. When do you remove a feature that has been put into the OS?
  • The 3rd party suppliers say that there are no standards for mobile, so they feel that WCAG doesn't apply to mobile devices, and therefore they don't have to do it.
  • Lack of call from disability groups for mobile apps to be made accessible. That lack of call from the market, makes vendors think there is no need.
  • Lack of data on the use of mobile devices for people with disabilities
  • Zoom functions usually lead to views with blurred edges (of text)
  • What do you support – make sure people with disabilities can develop, enable themselves
  • Color contrast not well supported across platforms
  • Cannot increase font size to 200% on iOS and Android (or only for those elements within apps that support dynamic text)
  • No conventions exist where and how to set the visible frame when changing between views/screens in apps
  • Platform zoom defaults when changing views often not optimal ('zoom out' on Android requiring new zoom in, 'leave at same position' at Windows Phone with often sub-optimal results such as 'sea of black' views)
  • Built-in zoom functions on mobile platforms often lack intelligent re-framing (such as resetting the position of the visible frame to include focused element) - currently only available in iOS 7.1 with VoiceOver on

Customisation Options

  • Zoom customisation
    • Lack of customisation options regarding the handling of zoom (zoom state, frame position) when calling up apps or screens/ views within apps or refocusing via swipe gestures or keyboard
    • Lack of customisation options for follow-focus when using screenreader and zoom simultaneously
  • Text customisation
    • Existing text size customisation options such miss crucial elements on system views (app icon legends) and in apps
    • Bold text option currently only available on iOS 7
  • Contrast customisation
    • User selectable high contrast colour schemes currently only available on Windows 8 touch devices
    • Available contrast settings such as inverted views on iOS and some Android skis such as Touchwiz (Samsung) ) cannot compensate poor text contrast
    • Inverted views not intelligent as they include elements that should usually not be inverted (images) - should be customisable to restrict inversion to text
  • Virtual keyboard customisation
    • No option to exclude keyboard from zoom on iOS ? Windows Phone 8, Windows 8
    • No option to include keyboard in zoom on Android
    • No independent settings for increasing text size, weight or contrast of keys in virtual keyboards (sorely needed on some Android skins)
  • Screen readers
    • Turning the screenreader on / off dependent on situated need is cumbersome on Android (no two-way shortcut as on iOS)

Missing Information

  • Conflicting information: developing for the different platforms/devices have different guidelines. There are no standards across all platforms.
    • For example, touch size differs in their recommendations. MIT did a touch study
  • Problems getting a Bluetooth keyboard to work
  • Blind users do not have information on how to set up the phone to get it to work
    • Needs to be guidance on how to set up the AT and other keyboards etc.
  • Information difficult to find
    • Very few examples
  • Not a lot of examples of sites and applications that are accessible
  • ARIA is mature on the desktop but not on mobile
    • Landmarks are not specified
    • Some ARIA not supported at all (e.g. grid)
  • Mobile gestures and the changes when AT is enabled
    • Different from keyboard and Bluetooth keyboard support is an issue
    • Keyboard events do not exist; may be due to touch interface
    • Need to have different widgets for different contexts
    • Key is to have items in sequential order; apps are easier than responsive/mobile websites
  • Developers do not see standards for mobile therefore they don't think it applies
    • Websites vs. mobile apps

Mobile Accessibility Challenges Discussions Elsewhere