According to statista.com, 4.61 billion people use a mobile device in 2016; by 2019, another half billion people will join them. Along with the growing use of mobile technology worldwide, there has been an increasing demand for accessible mobile content for disabled users.
Mobile vs. Web Accessibility
Mobile device users with disabilities face similar barriers to online content as their computer-using counterparts. Although the official accessibility guidelines are not tailored for mobile use, there is much overlap that can benefit mobile content for disabled users. Factors to consider regarding accessible mobile devices include:
- Compensating for small screen size: minimizing the amount of information that is put on each page compared to desktop versions, providing a reasonable default size for content and touch controls, and adapting the length of link text to the viewport width
- Zoom/Magnification: making text resizable
- Contrast: minimizing and enhancing the appearance of two or more parts of a field seen simultaneously (e.g. brightness contrast, lightness contrast, and color contrast)
- Keyboard control for touchscreen devices: clearly separated keys, predictable key layouts, differently shaped keys
- Touch Target Size and Spacing: objects on-screen must be big enough and have enough distance from each other so that users can safely target them by touch
- Changing Screen Orientation (portrait/landscape): mobile application should be able to support both orientations
- Consistent layout: components should be repeatable across multiple pages to ensure consistent layout
- Provide clear indication that elements are actionable: elements that trigger changes should be sufficiently distinct to distinguish from non-actionable elements. Some examples include color offset, conventional shapes, and conventional positioning to distinguish between the two
- Provide easy methods for data entry: reduce amount of text entry needed by providing select menus, radio buttons, check boxes or by automatically entering known information (such as date, time, and location)
These are just a few examples of how Web Content Accessibility Guideline principles overlap with mobile device accessibility. The World Wide Web Consortium has also issued the Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0 that offers guidance on how to improve Web user experience through mobile devices. Although the structure and formatting of online content may differ between mobile devices and desktop/laptop computers, the purpose of web accessibility remains the same; to ensure equal access to information and content, regardless of the device being used.