Approaches to implementing eAccessibility for mobile devices:

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Justifying adoption of eAccessibility

Besides Legislation (external) and general facts advocating for eAccessibility the following resources help to justify why mobile accessibility is crucial in the information society.

Beneficiaries of eAccessibilty

Web sites, application and devices considering the issue of accessibility are beneficial for a broad user group. Modern smartphones can provide lots of helpful services to older people, people with disability as well as people dealing with situation which cause a temporary disability when they are on the move. In addition, an accessible application can be still useable even if the user cannot have a lock at it since he or she is tied up with other tasks. These user groups are growing and will probably increase to an even more important portion of the whole number of users. The following resources give reason for that:

  • An overview and a report at the same time of the growing number of older smartphone users [1] (external)
  • A report of how many people from the UK access the internet and also how many of them are disabled and older [2] (external)
  • A proper concept of operation including an accessible and hands-free user interface would prevent a lot of accidents caused by drivers using cell phones. This resource provides statistics about using cell phones and driving accidents [3] (external)

Managing implementation of eAccessibility

Successfully designing and implementing accessible apps depends on multiple factors. Well-trained software developers who have the knowledge about what accessibility means, and who have a basic understanding of how people with disabilities use their mobile devices. Another important step is to follow the development guidelines listed in the corresponding section of this document. These documents describe the technical needs that are necessary to create accessible mobile apps.

The following links give you some hints on how to effectively create mobile applications.

Designing for Accessibility or mobile devices

Today's common smart phone operating systems like iOS, Android or Windows Phone provide sufficient means to make an application accessible. Developers can rely on predefined GUI widgets that allow them to build stable, easy to understand and predictable user interfaces. Those operating systems offer display themes that feature higher contrast and larger fonts for visually impaired people. For blind people each operating system has its own accessibility API that provides screenreaders and other assistive technology with the required information. However programmers need to ensure that their application and the used widgets implement those accessibility interfaces.

Native code that uses native widgets normally implements those interfaces by nature. However Runtimes like Java ME (external) or Adobe Air (external) and their user interface widgets may not implement those accessibility API's. In this case it is not possible to create an application based on such a runtime that is accessible to blind people. To make such an application accessible the source of the runtime itself needs to be changed which is not possible in most cases.

Most operating systems provide guidelines and tools that provide effective approaches for the design and development of accessible ICTs:

More on mobile/smart devices: