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In today’s always-online world, creating accessible mobile experiences is more important than ever.

This page covers some of the most common questions about mobile accessibility, giving your organization the tools you need to achieve compliance.

Interested in taking the next steps towards mobile compliance? Just fill out the form and get in touch with one of our mobile accessibility specialists.

Speak with A Mobile Accessibility Specialist

Talk to a specialist on our team about your organization’s mobile accessibility initiatives and challenges.

What is mobile accessibility?

When a mobile site or app is accessible, it can be used by someone with a disability:

  • someone who is blind that uses software that reads websites and apps out loud
  • someone who is hard of hearing who turns on captions when they watch videos
  • someone with a hand tremor who uses voice command software instead of their finger to tap on the screen.

When coded correctly, mobiles websites and apps work for all of these people. But oftentimes, mobile technology is not coded with accessibility best practices in mind.

Why? It’s often an honest oversight. Nobody intends to exclude people with disabilities from using a website.

Many developers were never taught best practices for mobile accessibility or never had access to mobile accessibility guidelines and the right resources. Or sometimes, fixing accessibility issues is a goal pushed to “later.”

Either way, people with disabilities are affected. They want to bank, shop, read the news, and talk with friends and family online… but they can’t always do it.

Get a copy of A11y to ZoomText, a print-friendly accessibility glossary.

A smartphone displaying a grid of colorful app icons. Additional icons are in bubbles floating around.

How do people with disabilities use mobile devices?

It’s okay if you don’t have any idea how a blind person would use an iPhone.

A three panel image showing the process of opening Gmail using VoiceOver.
Assistive technology bridges the gap between a person’s abilities and the content they want to access. For a blind person to use an iPhone, that bridge is called VoiceOver. With VoiceOver enabled, a layer of audio feedback helps the person navigate between and within apps. VoiceOver also reads the content on the screen.

Watch Meaghan use a screen reader to browse Twitter.

Various digital devices showing ada content

Does the ADA require me to have an accessible mobile experience?

Yes! …and no. The ADA requires accessibility for “places of public accommodation.”

But the ADA was written before mobile check depositing, Amazon.com, and streaming video services existed. There have been many attempts to update the text of the ADA. “Attempts” being the operative word there.

There are no clear regulations or mobile accessibility guidelines set in stone.

There are lawsuits and settlements.

According to the attorneys at Seyfarth Shaw, LLC, there were 2408 website accessibility lawsuits filed in 2019. That is an average of seven lawsuits filed per day.

Over the last 20 years, Level Access has advised and supported many customers and their counsel through the settlement process.

Download a short guide with advice on how to craft a win-win settlement.

Why does my business need to have an accessible mobile site or app?

Being accessible is the best defense against being sued for having an inaccessible app or mobile website. Is it bulletproof? No. But if you get a demand letter, you will have the documentation to prove your website or mobile app’s compliance.  

Being accessible increases the number of people you reach. Estimates are that 1 in 5 Americans has a disability that affects their daily life. Technology is a big part of daily life. 

Being accessible makes it easier to sell your goods and services. If you sell technology B2B or B2G, having an accessibility conformance report will rank your product higher in the minds of your buyers, especially in highly regulated industries or the government. 

Being accessible is the right thing to do. Assistive technology helps people with disabilities use the web. All we need to do as creators is ensure that we follow mobile accessibility guidelines and meet WCAG standards so that we can include them in everything great about modern life.

Learn more about the business case for mobile accessibility.

A smartphone with various screen elements popped out and enlarged

What are the basic mobile accessibility principles?

Your content is perceivable. Everything can be perceived in more than one way. If someone cannot see, written content can be read by a screen reader. If someone cannot hear, audio content has captions. 

Your content is operable. Everything can be operated in more than one way. If someone cannot use a mouse or touchpad, they can navigate by keyboard or by voice command software. If someone moves or reads slowly, they can request additional time to complete a task. 

Your content is understandable. Everything can be understood. If someone clicks on a navigation menu, it behaves like a navigation menu. If a button says, “Read More” it does what you expect it to do. If an error is made on a form, an error message points out the location of the error and suggests how to fix it. 

Your content is robust. Everything can roll up to the newest and shiniest hardware or assistive technology and not break.

Watch a webinar about the new success criteria in WCAG 2.1. 

Picture of words perceivable, operable, understandable, robust

How do I test my app or mobile website for accessibility?

Free tools are a wonderful place to start! There are many free tools that will give you a quick overview of your compliance. 

Of course, you get what you pay for. But if you need to convince the person in charge of the budget that you have an accessibility problem, you can do that with the results of a free testing tool. 

After you try free tools, you’ll want to contact an accessibility expert to do an audit. During the audit process, there will be automated testing, manual testing, and functional testing by people with disabilities.  

After the audit, you will receive a report with your overall level of compliance, a list of accessibility issues that need remediation, and mobile accessibility guidelines to help with remediation. Depending on your relationship with your vendor, they can provide training, helpdesk support, or even code side-by-side with your developers.

Get a free risk assessment (mini audit) of your website this week.

Two coworkers collaborate on a project