A is for Accessibility, B is for Being Better
This year one of the main goals for Juice Box Monkey Designs was to expand existing apps to more people. There were two parts to accomplish this, one was to localize to more countries other than English-speaking countries. The second was to support accessibility features to reach even more people.
Accessibility is the key.
Now, this isn’t a new concept. This isn’t a how-to guide with code snippets on how to support accessibility in your apps. However, if you are considering or don’t know anything about where to start, these are the experiences from the first time supporting accessibility in a publicly offered app called Chance Rope.
For the newbies, you aren’t alone. I was just like you two years ago.
Accessibility came into my radar years ago when our local government announced penalties on inaccessibility websites. Businesses went into hyper mode trying to support all the accessible features required by these new laws. Even before the new rules the consideration for accessibility was always there, but it seemed like a massive undertaking and I had zero ideas where to start.
To be honest, it was big and scary.
Teams around me were pivoting and supporting all the accessibility features and I sat on the sidelines while everything was going on, listening and watching. Later on the same year, I early backed a book that Jordan Morgan was in the process of writing and he released the first section, and guess what, it was all about accessibility. That was the tipping point for me, a foundation base I needed so that I could move forward.
Here are the biggest takeaways from being someone who didn’t know anything to now considering accessibility functionality at every step of the process:
Consideration #1 — Accessibility doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking
Keeping in mind that accessibility features are a guideline with multiple levels, it is not an all-or-nothing choice. You can take it in steps, supporting little things, here and there. Eventually supporting even more functionality and levelling up your accessibility features.
Knowing that Chance Rope was the first public attempt at supporting accessibility we focused on two features. First, is VoiceOver which allows people to screen read and interact with everything inside the app. As well as contract, making sure that all colours, buttons and shapes are customizable to the user. We plan to support dynamic types with support for increased text sizes and switch control support in early 2023. This is a prime example of steps to support accessibility instead of trying to support everything all at once.
Consideration #2 — Accessibility isn’t required, it’s just being better
The local government law I mentioned before only applies to companies with 50+ employees and only to web applications. Juice Box Monkey doesn’t have 50+ employees and Chance Rope is not a web app, so technically there was no requirement by law to support accessibility features. However, supporting functionalities like this open your app to be used by even more people and is inclusive for everyone. It’s a win-win.
Consideration #3 — Accessibility can be altered and updated
There are a lot of pieces of information out there about accessibility. For example, when you search accessibility you then have to select devices to narrow your search, the reason is to adjust for mobile apps versus web apps. When trying to find exactly what will work for your use cases, you might come up short but don’t let it stop you from still supporting things. You can update and change things along the way as you learn more.
Once you get into the roll of things it changes you, every new project or update I am thinking about the accessibility pieces while designing. It is never a piece to tack on the end, it is considered from the beginning. It may change or alter your designs for the benefit of more people enjoying your app.
Be better, support accessibility!
Here are some key pieces I recurrently come back to, they are great.
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