Thursday, May 16, 2019

5 Ways to Make Your App Design More Inclusive

Shannon O'Connor, Strategy Lead, Business Design
Design / Strategy

Making an online reservation for your next family vacation. Ordering a gift for a friend. Catching up over text message. The everyday moments are opportunities to build trust and empower people everywhere. Technology has allowed more people to have access to more powerful tools than ever. It’s our responsibility to ensure we’re creating experiences that support our differences.

Digital accessibility can be a collaborative program between all teams involved in creating and maintaining your digital ecosystem. It can be a challenge to address accessibility on a larger scale within your organization, especially when there is so much to learn. However, by setting the foundation early with smaller efforts such as inclusive app design, we can move the needle forward.

Here are some great places to start in your mobile app:

1. Color Contrast Ratios

Insufficient color contrast in an app makes the content difficult for everyone to read. For example, text and icons of insufficient contrast can blend with the background and cause for a challenging experience. In order to ensure your app meets optimal standards, utilize an online color contract calculator to help you accurately analyze your contrast ratio. A minimum is a ratio of 4.5:1, but to achieve optimal accessibility standards, you should aim for a ratio of 7:1.

2. Accessibility Feature Testing

Accessibility features can change contrast, invert colors, affect text and motion, and reduce transparency. Understand how your app will look and feel for people who have accessibility features enabled by conducting testing to observe how it changes once you’ve enabled these settings.

3. Closed Captions and Audio Descriptions

Including closed captions allow those who are deaf and hard-of-hearing to interact with spoken dialogue and audible content from videos or interactive media to create equally enriching experiences. Audio descriptions provide spoken narration of video content for those with visual impairments.

4. Alternative Text Labels for images, icons, and interface components.

Ensure that alternative text labels are provided in order for tools like VoiceOver to audibly describe onscreen features and provide seamless navigation for those with visual impairments.

5. Accessibility Preferences

When accessibility preferences are enabled, be sure that your app responds to those preferences when appropriate. For example, bold and larger text, the option to reduce motion, and system fonts.

Making a commitment to your customers is more than just the quality of the product or service you provide; it is about creating experiences that are made for everyone to enjoy.

When brainstorming your companies’ future digital accessibility initiatives, we recommend to establish and agree upon your company goals for digital accessibility. This includes the channels that you will address, the standards you will abide by, and the facilitation of collaboration with a network of assistive technology users throughout each stage of your efforts. It is imperative to gather important feedback from users to ensure you’re making progress.

At the end of the day, this is more than a checklist of guidelines, we’re striving to help organizations maximize usability for people of all abilities, across all channels.