Accessibility Services

Mobile and web applications have transformed the way we learn, work and interact with each other.  At the same time, this information revolution is yet to touch a significant section of the global population with a diverse range of abilities. According to the World Health Organization, there are 285 million people in the world who are visually impaired, of whom 39 million are blind. 

How can we make our information systems so inclusive that the benefits reach such people also? The answer lies in Accessibility.

An accessibility report analyzing the top million homepages on the web estimates that just 1 percent of them meet the most widely used accessibility standards.

Application developers can make use of accessibility guidelines and standards to author and validate contents that are accessible to all sections of people. Accessibility helps blind users in their day to day lives for activities like wayfinding, pedestrian navigation, exploring places of interest, and also navigation within the building that guides people precisely using indoor navigation.

What is accessibility development?

Accessibility development is the practice of making applications usable by a larger audience through digital equality.

Accessibility development for mobile  

There are various tools that mobile platforms offer to incorporate accessibility. Though the core concepts of accessibility apply to all mobile platforms, each has its own accessibility solutions. 

iOS and Android provide VoiceOver and TalkBack respectively to focus the UI elements and to read the selected text out loud. Additional accessibility information can be added to every element to tackle the chaos a user relying on accessibility might face. Localization of accessibility information is a great way of making applications appealing to different geographic target markets. Related elements can be consolidated to help users discover the information that’s on the screen more efficiently. A large number of plugins like eslint-plugin-react-native-a11y are available for developing hybrid mobile applications which help in maintaining the code quality and identifying places in the codebase for additional accessibility properties.

Accessibility development for web

Web accessibility is the new normal and we should ensure that the content is available to all to create a more inclusive user experience. International standards for web accessibility like W3C WAI, WAI-ARIA, and WCAG provide guidelines to make websites more accessible. A simple yet significant practice to develop accessible websites is to avoid small fonts that would benefit people with poor vision. Universal colors, black and white are used in the UI to help users with color blindness. Adding alternative texts for the components in the website will help users, especially fully/partially blind users to identify the elements and their purpose without hazel.

What is accessibility testing?

Testing for accessibility from the perspective of the users helps in finding usability issues and resolving them to develop a good quality application to the users. Hence making accessibility testing a part of the normal software testing life cycle is a need of the hour.

Accessibility testing for mobile  

In order to test accessibility from the perspective of a non-sighted user without a visual display, iOS provides the feature called Screen Curtain which keeps the device and VoiceOver navigation active, even though the display is turned off. Accessibility Inspector is a feature provided by Android that can be utilized to inspect if all of the available elements are made accessible. TalkBack helps in testing Android apps using only audio feedback to ensure that every control element provides the necessary feedback without repetition. AccessibilityScanner is another approach used in Android application testing to scan the current screen and display tips to improve accessibility.

Accessibility testing for web

Performing dedicated testing with different scenarios is inevitable to ensure that every element of the website is accessible and complies with the accessibility standards and guidelines. All elements are put through rigorous testing to ensure that it complies with the rules. NVDA helps convert the HTML into a flat document with semantic information like links, headings, form fields, images, etc. TAW, an online tool for determining web accessibility, can be used to help analyze the website in accordance with W3C guidelines.

Conclusion

Accessibility is becoming significant day by day due to the increasing usage of technology by a larger audience. Hence accessibility should be thought of as an essential part of the design and development of applications. This helps us in building applications for everyone who has access to it.

We, Travancore Analytics have immense experience in developing applications for users with partial or complete visual impairment. We use our expertise in accessibility to provide development and testing support for our clients to create quality products for the blind community. We resolve accessibility issues in software by making accessibility testing a part of the normal software testing life cycle.

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