Images are a major part of our apps. They add meaning and interest, they give your app character and context. The adage is that a picture is worth a thousand words. But if you can’t see the image clearly, how do you know what those words are?

If you aren’t providing image descriptions in your app many of your users will be missing out on the experience you’ve crafted. The result can be an app thats missing that spark an character, or worse an app thats just meaningless and unusable. Fortunately adding image descriptions is simple.

Choosing to add descriptions

There are a few…


How many shades of grey do you use in your app? OK, maybe thats a bit cruel towards designers, grey is a great colour, but the problem with grey is that it can be deceptively difficult to distinguish from a background. And this problem is not just limited to greys — lighter colours too can blend into the background. This effect can be heightened too for people who have blurred or obscured vision, or one of many forms of colour blindness.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is the guide that details what works and what doesn’t for digital accessibility. Written…


Many people don’t realise dark mode is an accessibility feature. It’s often just considered a nice to have, a cool extra feature that power users will love. But dark mode is also a valuable accessibility feature. Some types of visual impairment can make it painful to look at bright colours, or large blocks of white might wash over the black text. Some people with dyslexia or Irlen’s Syndrome can struggle to read black text on a white background. …


If you have a regulatory requirement to provide accessibility in your app (spoiler, you do) the chances are it will say you have a requirement to reach WCAG AA. While this is likely meaningless to anyone other an accessibility professionals, in short it means you are providing the minimum level of accessibility features required to make your app usable by the majority of people.

This post is about one such requirement, the jazzily titled Success Criterion 1.3.4. 1.3.4 is often overlooked, I’ve see it forgotten by accessibility auditors, overlooked by testers, removed by engineers, and ignored by designers. Yet this…


I’ll admit, adding UI testing to an app that currently doesn’t have it included is probably stretching the definition of quick win, but the aim here isn’t 100% coverage — not right away anyway. Start small and add to your test suite as you gain confidence. Even a small suite of crucial happy-path UI tests will help to ensure and persist accessibility in your app. And the more you get comfortable with UI tests the more accessible your apps will become, because an app that is easy to test is also great for accessibility.

iOS

XCUI tests are great for accessibility…


This is a common question I get asked — how do I go about arranging an accessibility audit for my app so I know where I can make improvements? If you’re truly looking for an answer to that question then I have a few options for you below, but first, are you asking the right question?

Accessibility Isn’t About Box Ticking

You can’t make your app accessible by getting a report, fixing the findings, and accepting it as done. Accessibility is a constant process of improvement to make sure your app works better for as many people as possible. This could mean adopting new accessibility…


When testing your app with VoiceOver or Switch Control, a common test is to ensure you can reach every interactive element on screen. If these assistive technologies can’t focus all of your buttons how will your customers be able to interact fully with your app? Except there are times when hiding buttons from your assistive technology users is the better choice. Consider an app with a table view that has many repeating interactive elements — this could be a social media app where ‘like, share, reply’ etc is repeated for each post. Or perhaps an e-commerce app with ‘wishlist, buy…


UI Tests for your iOS apps guarantee your users are getting your best experience, and give you confidence in your code

Vector drawing of a salmon colored phone or tablet with a blue robot surrounded by gears on it. Two men stand to either side and are using tools on the gears.
Vector drawing of a salmon colored phone or tablet with a blue robot surrounded by gears on it. Two men stand to either side and are using tools on the gears.

So your iOS app is comprehensively unit tested, meaning you can guarantee your business logic functions as you expect. But what about the views that your mobile user experiences? How do you guarantee you’re showing the information you think you are? Unit testing views just isn’t appropriate, but isn’t UI testing fragile and difficult to get started for iOS apps? It is true that UI testing does take longer, and uses more resources, compared to unit tests. (which is precisely why you should be using unit tests to test all your code — they are good at it.) …


Each year at WWDC Xcode Santa brings us exciting new APIs to play with, and this year our accessibility present is Customized Accessibility Content. This API flew under the radar a little, I’m told this is because it’s so new there wasn’t even time for inclusion at WWDC. But this new feature helps to solve a difficult question when designing a VoiceOver interface — where is the balance between too much and too little content.

VoiceOver Noise

Customize Accessibility Content solves a common issue with presenting complex data to VoiceOver. Present too much and you’ll add noise and make your app hard…


How to Avoid Common Accessibility Issues in iOS apps

hand holding phone with teal screen, against blue background with various phone icons
hand holding phone with teal screen, against blue background with various phone icons

Accessibility is usability.

Accessibility isn’t just about making our apps work for people with disabilities, but allowing all our customers to experience our apps in the way that is most comfortable for them. Ensuring all your app’s content is included in a scroll view means we can guarantee the content can be accessed, regardless of the size of your customer’s screen. But this also means your content can be dynamic without worrying if it will still fit, and allows the content to scale. …

Rob Whitaker

iOS Engineer at Capital One. Author, Developing Inclusive Mobile Apps, Apress. https://amzn.to/3aNRQ6d

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