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With over 15% of the global population falling under the specially-abled category, dedicated efforts are being taken by businesses and governments alike to help people with special needs live a life at par with their able-bodied counterparts.
While in the offline world, the efforts are clearly visible on the infrastructure level, the digital world is not taking the cue. The proof? In 2020 alone, digital accessibility lawsuits increased to more than 3,500 cases, which is almost ten lawsuits every business day.
Although we understand that it takes some extra effort to build ADA-compliant applications, the fact that digital businesses are keeping the requirement on the backseat is also keeping them away from a quality audience base, especially since people with disabilities are known to spend half-trillion dollars annually.
Amidst the number of tasks involved in mobile app lifecycle management, complying to the mobile app ADA compliance can become the least priority item because of a lack of high RoI. This happens even more so because businesses don’t typically have access to a single source of resources.
Something we are here to solve today, At Appinventiv, we ensure that every digital product we make, whether a wearable application or a mobile app or even a website falls under the rules set by the ADA and WCAG.
Now before we go on to share the different facets of ADA and WCAG compliance in app development, let us look at some of the benefits of ADA-compliant apps that make the extra efforts worth the money and time.
When you build an ADA or WCAG-compliant application, the advantages range from reputational to financial, which in turn have several impacts, such as:
Greater User Base – With 15% of the global population being specially-abled, you will be able to open your application to a much wider user base when you develop an ADA- and WCAG-compliant app.
Legal Compliance – Mobile app ADA compliance violations can lead to expensive fines and settlements. Under the rule, businesses can be subject to a fine of $75,000 for a single ADA violation, which can increase to $150,000 for more violations.
Improved SEO – Both Google and Apple tend to keep accessibility as a key factor for app visibility and website’s genuinity. So, when you make an ADA- and WCAG-compliant app, you automatically increase the probability of better search engine rankings and higher app store placements.
Now that we have looked at the business impact you can expect when you create an ADA- and WCAG-compliant app, let us get down to the details of how to build one. At present, there are a number of rules and standards being followed globally around accessibility, so to save confusion, we treat WCAG and ADA as the standards when we build successful mobile apps for our clients.
While the generic steps to building a mobile app seamlessly can be accessed in this blog, ‘A Step-by-Step Guide on Mobile App Development Process’, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines criteria defines four principles need to be taken care of during mobile app development – perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. We usually follow these principles to their entirety when building mobile apps for businesses.
While these are the concentrated versions of the principles, here’s the official WCAG 2.2 link in case you wish to deep dive into the individual principles.
This category of WCAG-compliant applications is about how an app is shown to the users. For example, how a small screen size affects the observable area of the page, the placement and contrast of buttons and hyperlinks, and any other element that the users would need to use the application. Accessibility challenges in this section generally include screen size vs content ratio, zoom capabilities, and presence of sufficient contrast.
The mobile accessibility issues to consider when you build an ADA-compliant application in this category consists of enabling a keyboard for touchscreen devices, optimization of the touch target size, the spacing, button placement, and presence of instructions for alternative touchscreen gestures for the people who would need them. To meet the requirement of this principle, our mobile app developers make sure that the way users interact with the application of mobile web platforms – touching buttons, scrolling, etc. – come free of barriers.
This element of when you develop an ADA- and WCAG-compliant app is all about ensuring that the users understand how to use the app and customize the settings when needed. The factors to note here consist of the capability to modify screen orientation, ensure consistent layout, position important page content before scroll, group elements that lead to the same action, provide clear indication that specific elements are actionable, and give custom instructions for touch and device manipulation gestures.
When you create an ADA- and WCAG-compliant app, this category highlights how well the mobile app interface is supported across operating systems and devices. Some factors to consider here can be – setting a virtual keyboard for data entry and aligning the app with the characteristic properties of the specific platform. For example, a difference in devices and operating systems might impact the presence of some accessibility functions like font size adjustment or wrapping of the text that has been magnified.
Now that we have looked into the core principles of ADA and WCAG compliance in app development, let us convert the information into actionable items.
To ensure that your mobile apps are accessible to people with special needs, it is important to comply with the predefined rules and standards. Let us look into them in an actionable, easy to follow manner.
Although we follow all these pointers when we build WCAG-compliant applications, our team of designers and developers understand how accessibility compliance starts with the design stage itself.
Our mobile app designers keep special-needs requirements as a default part of the user persona, which helps in ensuring that every element that we design and develop from there on, is easily accessible by people with hearing, visual, and cognitive difficulties.
Now while it is comparatively straightforward to increase the accessibility quotient of an app which is being built from scratch, it is a little different to add the functionality in pre-existing applications that are missing the capability. The way we approach that is by running an accessibility audit of the application and creating a design and development plan based on the findings – one that is built to make the entire application completely accessible.
So irrespective of which stage your business belongs to, we are the mobile app development company that can successfully build ADA-compliant applications, making you accessibility compliant.
Get in touch with us to incorporate ADA and WCAG compliance in app development.
Q. What is an ADA-compliant app?
A. An ADA-compliant application is one that can be accessed by a specially-abled person having hearing, visual, mobility, and cognitive difficulties with the same ease as their able-bodied counterparts.
Q. How to make an app ADA and WCAG compliant?
A. There are a number of ways to create an ADA- and WCAG-compliant app. Here are the top ones:
Q. What to do if my business was sued for not being ADA compliant?
A. If your business was sued for not being ADA compliant, the first thing you will need to do is not ignore the complaint. You will only have a certain number of days, ranging from 21 to 30 days to respond. Next, hire a business attorney who has experience in ADA cases and immediately start with correcting the accessibility issues by making necessary design and development changes to your app.