Devlin Digital is very pleased to lend a help to those in Toronto most committed to tearing down, smashing up, crashing through (need I go on?) barriers. ‘Access for One – Access for All’ has long been a mantra here in the Studio. There is much to do to support the tireless work of those in the digital accessibility camp, not only here in Toronto, but across the country and around the world. Let’s all put our heads and hearts together to devise ever greater improvements.
En Garde D’Artagnan! En Garde Jennison! All for One and One for All…
Startup Raising Accessibility Announces Whitepaper on Mobile App Design for Blind Users and the Senior Demographic
Guest Post By Sean Power
Raising Accessibility, a startup app development firm devoted to providing technological solutions that make life easier for the accessibility community and senior demographic, today announced the results of a low vision iPhone usability study that offers app makers recommendations for mobile developers looking to create barrier free apps.
The whitepaper was developed in conjunction with inclusive design experts, including accessibility consultant and organizer of the Toronto Accessibility & Inclusive Design Meetup group George Zamfir, man behind the accessibility-consulting firm Good Wally. The study took place in the Usability Lab at award-winning digital agency Devlin Digital. The Devlin Usability Lab was among the first of its kind in Canada.
Download Mobile App Design and Functionality for Low Vision Users .
By the numbers:
285 million people worldwide are visually impaired.
516 million people worldwide are age 65 and over.
13% of people age 65+ in America own a smartphone.
31% of people age 55-64 own a smartphone.
We believe that it is only through active collaboration with mobile developers, user experience experts, and the accessibility community that true inclusive design will be achieved.
This whitepaper offers several recommendations to developers and designers based on observations from a November 2012 usability study. The study observed eight subjects with different types of blindness as they interacted with a prototype iPhone magnifier app.
App makers with global endeavours need to keep this population segment in mind when designing and developing their app. The recommendations in the whitepaper we released today identify opportunities for app developers to optimize user experience for a wider and inclusive user base:
1. Make the most of audible and haptic (vibrating) alerts.
Developers should incorporate sounds and beeps to inform users when they have performed specific tasks or interactions. Equally important, though often overlooked, is a set of sounds and beeps that indicate when the app is waiting for input before performing a specific function.
2. Use custom multi-touch gestures to improve navigation.
Multi-touch gestures simplify navigation and create shortcuts for users. Custom gestures can replace the need to see a user interface. Including a set of gestures ensures a great user experience and high user retention for individuals who experience low vision.
3. Use high contrast, large buttons.
Designers who love slick interfaces avoid large buttons and constrain themselves to specific contrast colors. Everybody’s eyes work differently. Adding the ability to change contrast colors empowers users to tailor their experience of your app.
4. Think twice about how your app uses the camera.
Most devices position the camera lens off-centre. This position is not intuitive to low vision users, especially those users who are new to mobile devices. If your app uses the device’s camera, think about how obstacles associated with position and lighting might be overcome.
5. Consider how spatial awareness might impact how users interact with your app.
Subjects using the iPhone magnifier app were unsure where to hold the device relative to their face. Most subjects experimented with distance until they found an optimal length. This length varied from test to test, from person to person, and from task to task. Consider making a flexible and fluid interface that accommodates personal preference. Make it easy for users to find consistency.
Following these recommendations will go a long way in making mobile experiences equally enjoyable regardless of ability.
We encourage all developers to join us in making the mobile world barrier free. Let’s make assistive technology an obsolete term.
Sean Power is a marketing consultant and the Project Lead for the Raising Accessibility research paper titled Mobile App Design and Functionality for Low Vision Users. Sean sits on the Board of Directors and the Accessibility Committee for a local meal kitchen whose patrons and volunteers often experience low vision. Sean works with an African health charity with whom he recently hosted a panel discussion on working with people with disabilities in international development.
Sean Power breaks down barriers.