The use of mobile devices such as smartphones has continued to grow over the past few years. People with disabilities are increasingly turning to their wireless device as their primary method of communication. More than 80% of people with disabilities use their wireless device every day (Mobile Manufacturers Forum, 2014). The mobile world is also rapidly evolving with increasingly technical devices, platforms, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), applications, and web browsers.
With no regulatory mobile specific accessibility guidelines, The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has developed a document that provides informative guidance on how to make mobile web content and apps accessible. This document describes how the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and its principles, guidelines, and success criteria can be applied to mobile web content, mobile web apps, native apps, and hybrid apps to make them accessible to all people.
The technical guidance provided by WAI focuses on mobile accessibility related issues, such as mobile screen size, zoom and magnification, keyboard control for touchscreen devices, touch target size and spacing, and touchscreen gestures.
Smaller screen sizes for mobile devices is one of the biggest issues of accessibility. Web developers must consider how much information they can put on the website for people to easily access and see on smaller screens. Zoom and magnification is an important issue for people with low vision. Zooming in or magnifying a website increases the size of the content and images, thus making it easier for low vision users to see. Keyboard control for touchscreen devices can come in many different ways. People with vision-related disabilities can benefit from external, physical keyboards over touchscreen keyboards. Touchscreen gestures is another important guideline for mobile device accessibility. Some issues with touchscreen gestures can be the lack of on-screen indicators that remind people how and when to use them. Another key guideline is the placement of elements and links on a web page. If the elements and links are not properly positioned (adequate amount of spacing), it makes it difficult for people with motor skill disabilities to select elements or links.
Read WAI’s document on mobile accessibility guidelines. With more and more disabled people using mobile devices, these guidelines will help website developers make their sites easier to access by people with disabilities.