Barrier-free apps: duty and style at the same time
Accessibility is an important factor for the inclusion of all people in our society.
With the Accessibility Enhancement Act of June 2022, the federal government took an important step towards a barrier-free society.
The law obliges public bodies and companies to make their digital offerings - including mobile apps - accessible by 2025.
For developers of mobile apps, this means that they have to deal intensively with the issue of accessibility in order to meet the requirements of the law. It's not just about designing the app so that it can be used by people with physical or mental disabilities, but also about accessibility for the elderly or people with temporary disabilities such as injuries or illnesses.
Characteristics of an accessible app
A barrier-free app is characterized by a large number of features that address the different needs of the users.
For example, buttons should be large and clearly recognizable so that people with motor disabilities can also use the app.
Well thought-out navigation, the clear structure of the content and the use of simple language formulations make it easier for people with cognitive impairments to use.
It is important for people with visual impairments that text is presented in sufficient size and contrast and that images and graphics are given an alternative description that can be read by screen readers.
The option of adapting both the font size and the color scheme of the app to one's own needs also contributes to accessibility.
Good cooperation with accessibility experts can help to optimize the accessibility of the app and to identify and eliminate possible weak points at an early stage. This is most effectively planned for when the app is designed.
In addition to the requirements of the Accessibility Strengthening Act, there are also a large number of voluntary guidelines and standards for the design of accessible apps. These include, for example, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) or the Accessible Information Technology Ordinance (BITV) of the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.
A barrier-free app not only offers access for people with disabilities, but also for a broader target group. A simple and clear design of the app facilitates navigation and improves the application experience for all users.
In this way, good accessibility also increases the acceptance and reputation of the company or organization.
Bodo Leemhuis is Lead Mobile Developer at it-economics and has more than 10 years of experience in the development and integration of mobile Android and iOS apps in complex environments.