Inclusive Design

IBM Strengthens Mobile App Accessibility and Usability

According to data from comScore, people spend approximately 50 percent of all their digital media time on the 4.2 million smartphone apps available today. While the number of mobile apps continues to increase, many are failing to engage and excite customers due to quality, functionality and usability issues.

To help organizations ensure that all users, including people with disabilities and the aging population, have the best possible experience when interacting with mobile apps and content, IBM has released a new solution for iOS and Android™ that helps developers save time, expense, and strengthen the accessibility of mobile apps.Infographic titled, "Mobile Accessibility: By the Numbers" 1) About 15% of the world's population lives with some form of disability. 2) There are 6.7 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide. 3) App usage worldwide increased 58% in 2015. 4) Captioning helps engagement: mobile video viewership is up 532% since 2012. 5) It costs up to $150,000 to make an app, so it pays to make it accessible from the start.

The IBM AbilityLab™ Mobile Accessibility Checker is a cloud service built on IBM Bluemix that identifies and corrects accessibility and usability issues early in the development cycle to deliver an optimized mobile user experience. It automates the process of testing for accessibility violations directly within mobile hybrid and native application development, test or build environments.

Guiding users through the testing process, it provides a detailed report on all issues, such as lack of description, color contrast issues, or lack of keyboard focus, and then recommends the necessary corrections so the app meets conformance with industry standards. Watch a demo of the service.

Mobile Accessibility Checker also establishes a new set of mobile DevOps best practices by enabling on-device testing and integration directly into the agile development process. This helps eliminate roadblocks for developers less familiar with accessibility conformance requirements as the service can be woven into the mobile Integrated Development Environment (IDE) – Xcode or Android Studio – or from a command line.

When a developer or tester runs the app in a simulator or device, it will automatically retrieve the accessibility hierarchies for each app’s user interface for evaluation and then provide a report based on the IBM Accessibility Checklist 6.1 for Software and Web.

IBM recently updated its checklist in anticipation of the Section 508 refresh, which unifies its guidance by Applying WCAG 2.0 to Non-Web Information and Communications Technologies published by the World Wide Web Consortium. Mobile applications are governed by the same accessibility standards that apply to desktop and web applications.

This gives Mobile Accessibility Checker the ability to perform an extensive testing and analysis of apps designed to deliver an optimized mobile experience, including the ability to check foreground and background color contrast, dynamic font type, and navigation. In addition, it extends the WCAG and 508 checklist to identify usability issues, such as button size, spacing and proper syntax. Developers now have better insights to create a mobile application so that it can benefit different customer segments.

Mobile apps are one of the most personal touch points available to brands. All users benefit when they are empowered to perform tasks and have access to timely information quickly and easily. Mobile Accessibility Checker helps remove design flaws that prevent people with disabilities and the aging population from using them effectively. By correcting usability issues early in the software development process, organizations can save on costs, meet standards conformance, and drive greater inclusivity through mobile technology.

For pricing and more information, please visit Mobile Accessibility Checker on the IBM Cloud Marketplace. IBM Mobile Accessibility Checker is also available as a software development kit.

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