Accessibility, a concept ingrained in our physical world through ramps, Braille and accessible urban architecture. The importance of Digital Accessibility (DA) has skyrocketed as there are now 16 million disabled adults in the UK. Understanding and implementing accessibility in digital products has not only become a necessity but a moral imperative.

In this digital landscape the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) stand as pillars, guiding developers towards creating more accessible products. Rooted in four fundamental principles, these principles serve as a robust framework for reaching an acceptable level of digital inclusivity:

  • Perceivable – Ensuring that the user interface (UI) and content are presented in a way that leaves nothing invisible to the user. This principle accommodates users who rely on touch or audio interfaces.
  • Operable – Enabling users to operate digital products using the controls and methods they are familiar with, such as voice commands. This ensures the digital experience is accessible to users of diverse abilities.
  • Understandable – Focusing on making digital products comprehensible to every user. Clarity in design & functionality ensures that users can easily navigate and understand the content or services provided.
  • Robust – Emphasising that digital content remains robust across a variety of devices, technologies and platforms. This includes compatibility with different browsers, ensuring a consistent and reliable user experience.

Digital accessibility is particularly pertinent to mobile applications given how mobile phones are now woven into the daily lives of billions. Here are the key components that developers need to consider when ensuring accessibility in mobile applications:

Visual Accessibility:

  • Text Size & Contrast – Ensure that text is resizable and there is sufficient contrast between text and background. This accommodates users with visual impairments who may need larger text or high contrast for better visibility.
  • Alternative Text for Images – Provide descriptive alt text for images which enables screen readers to convey information to users who cannot see the visuals.

Auditory Accessibility:

  • Captioning & Transcripts – Include captions for audio content and provide transcripts to make your app accessible to users with hearing impairments.
  • Sound Notifications – Offer visual alternatives for sound notifications, ensuring that users with hearing disabilities are made aware of alerts or messages.

Motor Accessibility:

  • Tough Targets & Gestures – Touch targets should be large enough and allow users to interact with the application with ease in order to accommodate users with motor impairments.
  • Navigation Efficiency – Implement efficient navigation options, enabling users to navigate through the application using a variety of input methods.

Cognitive Accessibility:

  • Simplified Language – Use clear, concise and simple language to enhance understanding for users with cognitive impairments.
  • Consistent Navigation – Maintain consistency in the application’s layout and navigation to reduce cognitive load and enhance user experience.

Digital accessibility is not just a technological consideration, it is a commitment to inclusivity and a demonstration of social responsibility. As we forge ahead in the digital age we must prioritise accessibility to ensure that the benefits of technology are received by everyone, regardless of ability. By adhering to established guidelines like WCAG and incorporating the key components in digital products we pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable digital future.