Designing UIs for everyone

Accessibility guidelines are used to make the Web’s content more accessible to people with disabilities.

Accessibility involves a wide range of disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological disabilities.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, W3C

Although these wide range topics help millions of people with difficulties, web accessibility shouldn’t be just that. It should also be about people using a slow Internet connection and users who speak a different language. Ideally, developers and designers should think about everyone and come up with a similarly great experience for every user.

With no proper accessibility, companies will miss out on some business opportunities because potential customers can’t use their software the way it was intended. Let me guide you through a couple of examples:

The iPhone Control Center

As an iOS user and European citizen, I was always waiting for Apple to launch the button to turn on mobile data in the Control Center and recently I wondered why Apple only added it in iOS 11. Android has had this for a while.

Control Center iOS 10.2

I believe that the answer to my own question can be explained with these 2 points:

1. Most Apple engineers are working in California

2. The unlimited data plans that are very common in American telecommunications packages

The engineers probably never had the problem of having to turn the mobile data on and off constantly due to their unlimited data plans. However, in Europe this scenario is a little different and pretty much everyone has this problem.

It is a fact that Apple knows about data plan limitations because they have features that allow users to control which apps can use mobile data. In spite of that, they still decided to prioritize Airplay and Night Shift over Mobile Data toggling in the iOS 10 Control Center.

The process to turn on mobile data on iOS 10.2
Turning mobile data on and off with the new iOS 😃 😅 🎉

(And I’m not the only one celebrating)

Reachability

On the other hand, Apple does have good accessibility features. For instance, Reachability is an iOS mechanism that allows users to reach for the top edge of the screen by simply double tapping on the home button. After doing this, the device’s content will be pushed down and start at the middle of the screen. This is a simple way for people with smaller hands to interact with hard-to-reach content on large phones.

Reachability

These examples lead me back to my starting point — today, we should think about everyone and the difficulties that they may have to face. You aren’t only improving an experience, you are potentially expanding your business and exploring new opportunities by thinking about all the users.

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