August 31 2022

Is Your Native Mobile Application Accessible for People with a Disability?

native mobile app testingA recent study shows that the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted phone usage with a large increase in app usage due to social distancing. But are these native mobile apps accessible for everyone, or are people with a disability being left out?

Native mobile apps, just like websites, should be evaluated for conformance against current website ADA guidelines, so that users can have a fair experience with them. Mobile app testing begins with an audit which is based on the four main guiding principles of accessibility upon which WCAG has been built. These four principles are known by the acronym POUR for perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. POUR is a way of approaching web accessibility by breaking it down into these four main aspects.

  • Perceivable - Perceivable information and user interface.

  • Operable – Operable user interface and navigation.

  • Understandable – Understandable information and user interface.

  • Robust – Robust content and reliable interpretation.

How does Native Mobile app testing work?

Mobile app testing works similar to testing for websites with a few key differences. When we scan a website to identify accessibility violations, we use an accessibility tool to crawl the site, and upon analyzing, we cross reference and propose remediation. Native apps, on the other hand, can’t be scanned by any tools, so the methodology is highly dependent on certified ADA experts. They know what to look for and will carefully analyze and test an app using the four main guiding principles referenced above and the methodology below.

Manual testing native mobile apps

Since a native app can’t be scanned with an accessibility tool, a certified ADA expert must manually interact with each area of the application on both iOS and Android devices using the accessibility features, like Voiceover, Keyboard, Switch, Invert colors, Grayscale, Reader view and more. Testing a native app for accessibility takes knowledge of the device features and a deep understanding of the accessibility principle. Here are some of the tests that will be performed:

  • Text alternatives for non-text content – Text alternatives convey the purpose of an image or function to provide an equivalent user experience. For instance, an appropriate text alternative for a search button would be “search” rather than “magnifying lens.”

  • Captions and other alternatives for multimedia – Well-written text transcripts containing the correct sequence of any auditory or visual information provide a basic level of accessibility and facilitate the production of captions and audio descriptions.

  • Content can be presented in different ways – This requirement allows content to be correctly read aloud, enlarged, or adapted to meet the needs and preferences of different people. For instance, it can be presented using custom color combinations, text size, or another styling to facilitate reading.

  • Content is easier to see and hear - This requirement helps separate foreground from background to make important information more distinguishable. This includes considerations for people who do not use assistive technologies and for people using assistive technologies who may observe interference from prominent audio or visual content in the background.

As native mobile app downloads continue to increase, according to Statista research, it’s essential that your app is also accessible for people with a disability. You will want to engage a certified accessibility expert like ZAG Interactive to perform native mobile app accessibility testing initially and on an ongoing basis as the app undergoes changes and improvements. Get in touch with ZAG Interactive to discuss how to make your native mobile app inclusive to all audiences, no matter their abilities.

  • Mobile
  • Website Compliance

posted by
Danielli Franquim
Danielli Franquim
Sr. QA & Certified Accessibility Analyst

ZAG Interactive is a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT, offering website design, development, marketing and digital strategy to clients nationwide. See current job openings.