Jul 22, 2019 | By poq

Is your app accessible?

by Luis Abreu
Product Designer

At Poq, we believe opening your app up to the wider market, innovation, inclusivity, and enhancing your brand are all strong reasons for investing in accessibility. Not to mention, it will help you minimise the risk of legal action from local governments.


The 4 benefits of accessibility

Accessibility may not be at the top of your checklist when it comes to creating your app, but it should be. Fifteen percent of the world’s population lives with some kind of impairment (2011 WHO World Report on Disability). And, let’s not forget temporary impairments such as hearing in loud places, screen visibility in the sunlight, and more. By opening your app up to the wider world of individuals with impairments and impaired instances, you will:

Extend market reach

The global market of people with disabilities is over 1 billion people, with a spending power of more than $6 trillion. However, accessibility often goes beyond the disabled community, everyday people face temporary hearing and visual disabilities due to loud environments, and sunlight, respectively. For example, an interface that can be navigated quickly and logically isn’t just helpful for people who are visually impaired – it’s also the fastest and easiest way for anyone to journey through an app.

Drive Innovation

Accessibility features in products and services often solve unanticipated problems. For impaired users, Siri is often the only way to control and perform actions on their devices. However, for the wider populace, Siri provides increased convenience and speed to quickly and seamlessly perform tasks via Shortcuts and other hands-free features. Siri received 10 billion requests per month in 2018 and is the most popular voice assistant with 46% market share, and Google Assistant actions have gone up 2.5x in the past year. Similarly, subtitles on video streaming apps, such as Netflix, not only benefit the hearing impaired, but also allow users on noisy commutes to understand what is being said when watching content. With text resizing, it not only assists visually impaired users, but also allows certain users to decrease text size in order to maximise the amount of content on screen.

Enhance your brand

Diversity and inclusion efforts are so important for the success of your brand and business. With a clear, well-integrated accessibility commitment you will be providing all of your customers with an amazing and satisfying user experience. They will be sure to gain affinity for your brand and customer lifetime value (CLTV) will increase.

Minimise legal risk

Countries such as the US and the UK, as well as Europe as a whole, have laws regarding digital accessibility. Additionally, there is a view to make them stricter on websites and apps – making accessibility an increased legal concern. By improving accessibility you will avoid a potential onslaught of legal actions taken against your company and brand.


Who benefits?

Building an accessible app requires ensuring its ease of use for people with many different disabilities. The range of disabilities that can affect access to the digital landscape is vast. For example:

  • Users may be in a situation where their eyes, ears, or hands are busy or interfered with (e.g. driving to work, working in a loud environment, etc.).
  • Users may not be able to see, hear, move.
  • Users are unable to process certain information, such as product descriptions or button call to actions, easily or at all.
  • Users can have difficulty reading or comprehending text.
  • Users may not have or be able to use a keyboard or mouse.
  • Users may not be able to see the app and its features as if it were a long block of text.

Take a look at this video to get a glimpse into some of the issues a blind person may face when using apps.


Moving towards full accessibility

Here at Poq we have taken actionable steps from conception to development to create fully accessible retail apps for your customers. One of the biggest benefits of native apps is the amazing support from Apple and Google to create high performing accessible journeys – a capability websites cannot adequately provide. Both of Poq’s iOS and Android platforms offer accessibility features like text-to-speech, haptic, and gesture technologies. All accessibility features are still evolving, but every time we add or update a new one, we ensure that we adhere to the accessibility guidelines. Here are some examples:

Text alternatives for any non-text content

Not everyone can see photos and videos due to visual impairments or a text only interface. People who rely on text-to-speech voice technology should be able to get the full experience of an app’s content and providing text alternatives will give them that capability. When images are shown, the alternative text briefly describes the image or action that will be performed. As a result, images and actions must be correctly titled within the CMS or code.

Provide clear and consistent navigation options

Ensure that navigation across the screens of your app has consistent naming, styling, and positioning. Help users understand where they are in the app by providing clear headings. Use a consistent style hierarchy to communicate the relative importance of buttons. For example, people can turn on Button Shapes – making it easier to distinguish active buttons from surrounding content. When you use a consistent hierarchy of button styles, people can grasp the importance of buttons based on their appearance. For example, the most important buttons use a rounded rectangle shape and a colour fill; secondary buttons aren’t colour-filled, but may display text or a glyph in the key colour; and the least critical buttons use just coloured text.

Include text content that is readable and understandable

Use regular or heavy font weights in your app such as Medium, Semi-Bold, or Bold, because they are easier to see. Avoid UltraLight, Thin, and Light font weights, which are more difficult to see. With a tool like Poq’s App Styler, you can make design adjustments quickly and easily – consistently ensuring you are adhering to this guideline.

Provide a user experience that is easy to see and hear

Give users sufficient contrast between the foreground and background layers – making sure that colours are visible by users with colour blindness.


Make your brand accessible

Whilst we ensure that the build of the app is accessible, one element that we don’t control is your visual branding. As a result, you should take into consideration making your app brand colours compliant for colour blindness. Colour blindness might sound like a minor issue in relation to creating an app, but 8% of all men in the world (and 0.5% of all women) have some form of this condition. Most of this consists of red-green colour blindness – affecting how people read colours in your app.

As previously mentioned, at Poq we provide our clients with the App Styler, an easy-to-use tool that allows users to make design changes quickly and seamlessly. The design system upon which it is built allows for reusable components to be customised to focus on accessibility – following the above standards. Apps built on the Poq platform currently and will continue to have the ability to scale their app and perform updates for current and future accessibility standards.

Legally you are not required to adhere to the accessibility guidelines. However, in recent years, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), citing the Americans with Disabilities Act, has sued and negotiated millions of dollars in settlements with big brands. Companies such as Target, Disney and Netflix were sued for not designing their websites to accommodate the browsing needs of disabled customers. As a modern retailer, you do not want to suffer the same consequences as some of the biggest companies out there. Make your app accessible and you won’t have to worry.

Ultimately, every user benefits from apps that abide by the accessibility guidelines. A wider user base will make your app more competitive and more likely to succeed. Laws and requirements for apps could change at any moment. Here at Poq we want to make sure that you are ahead of the curve, consistently satisfying your customers, and always garnering positive brand awareness.

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