About a month ago, my friend recommended an application to download on my phone. I wasn’t sure if they had thought about this, but there are many apps, even popular ones, that are inaccessible to people with low vision or photosensitivity. Right as I was about to ask, my friend said “don’t worry, the text can be enlarged to your size and there’s no strobes.” I was happy that not only my friend had checked for these things, but that the app developers had thought ahead of time and made their app accessible to people with low vision and photosensitivity.
Too many times, accessibility is a last minute thing to add to an application. With an increasing number of people with vision loss, app developers should be more aware of how important it is to consider diverse users when developing an application. Here are seven accessibility settings I check for when downloading an application, either on my Android phone or iPad.
Can text be enlarged?
While some applications support the operating system’s default text settings, there are other apps that use their own fonts. Typically, I use a size 24 font, though bigger is almost always better.
Users can also explore different font types and styles. People with certain print disabilities benefit immensely from weighted fonts like Comic Sans.
- Low Vision Accessibility Settings For Android Phones
- How To Make iPad Accessible for Low Vision
- My Eight Favorite Free Fonts For Print Disabilities
Can screen readers be used?
Many users use a tool like VoiceOver (Apple) or TalkBack (Android) in order to access text. Adding alt text image descriptions is also important so the user isn’t left guessing what was in the picture. If the image is purely decorative, write “null” or “decoration” to identify the image as such. Also, have a skip navigation option, so the screen reader isn’t reading through unnecessary information.
- How To Use VoiceOver For Beginners
- How To Write Alt Text and Image Descriptions for the Visually Impaired
Is everything displayed?
When the font is enlarged, make sure that all text and buttons are displayed on the screen in a logical manner. Some apps have text run off the screen, or do not enlarge buttons, which makes it impossible to use the app.
Is there sufficient contrast?
Is it easy to read the text on the screen? Having options to change the colors of the background or other buttons can be helpful in ensuring readability. Having a night mode with a dark color scheme also can help reduce glare.
Are there strobe or flashing effects?
I have used a couple of applications that had random strobe or flashing light effects, or that used strobe notifications that could not be disabled. I even had a phone for about an hour that had lots of flashing effects that triggered a migraine. These apps were uninstalled immediately, and the strobing phone was returned as well. While a light at the frequency of a car blinker is fine, do not use strobe or flashing light effects, especially in red/blue colors.
- How To Choose a New Phone With Photosensitivity
- How To Check Videos For Flashing Light Sensitivities
Can I use my own keyboard?
Some applications prevent the user from accessing a third party keyboard, or even the speech-to-text option. Allow users to be able to use any keyboard for maximum compatibility.
Do I have to think about using this?
One of the main design principles is that if the user has to think while using a product, then the designer has failed. Make sure users don’t have to jump through too many hoops to figure out how to use an app.
Accessibility is very important to me, and I am always grateful when developers keep users like me in mind. While there are so many other disability areas to remember, I hope developers will continue to remember those of us with low vision and photosensitivity when creating apps.