Mar 13, 2023, Mobile

Save your user trouble, and make your app accessible for success

Łukasz Stachnik iOS developer
mobile accessibility
Dos and don’ts of Mobile Accessibility for Business Folks.

Previously on mobile accessibility

In my latest article about mobile accessibility, I elaborated on the importance of vision accessibility, about how to not get sued for not responding to the accessibility requirements and how to make your user see your app through rose-colored glasses. But in today’s episode of this series, I would love to share with you some stories about: 

  • How to accelerate your user base by giving you a checklist of things to consider when on UX/UI workshops

  • Why people with weaker motor or dexterity skills choose mobile platform first

  • Why Tinder is a great match for this topic

  • What are the business grounds of the mobile accessibility and how to think like a mobile giant even on a lower scale

Why and how do you need to think about mobility problems?

Numerous people around the world are struggling with smaller and bigger motor skills disabilities. For US alone according to Disable World Organization:


  • Number of adults with at least one basic action’s difficulty or complex activity limitation: 73.5 million (2012)

  • Percent of adults with at least one basic action’s difficulty or complex activity limitation: 31.9% (2012)

And this is the data from 2012 alone and only for the United States of America. So, at the moment of creating this article those scores can differ, but quite possibly aren’t lower. That’s why, from a business perspective and overall development, those people are probably going to be your future users, and it would be wise to host them accordingly.


What to keep in mind to be more inclusive?

There is a lot of talk about being more inclusive, and it’s great! I love the idea, but at the same time, I still see people with some weaker motor skills. For instance, struggling to get to the building in the urban area because someone didn’t think of creating a ramp for a wheelchair. So, let’s put one’s money where one’s mouth is and create great UX and UI for your users. By the way, this is one of the key focus areas for UX design in 2023 – you can read about it in other of our blog posts created by one of my dear colleagues, Michał.

Okay, but I started this paragraph with a question in mind: “What would be this checklist for product owners, developers, and overall creators of the mobile experiences?”. And I think I have a great answer for you! When I was researching the topic, I stumbled across one and only Web Accessibility Initiative which keeps the accessibility standards on the high level with great documentation and reasoning behind it. And you may be wondering what connects it with mobile, while it is a Web initiative. However, there’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, in short WCAG, and its principles and success criteria can be applied to mobile web content, mobile web apps, native apps, and hybrid apps using web components inside native apps. That’s why it’s a great place of wisdom. So, to not keep you waiting any longer, the checklist for your UX (User Experience) /UI (User Interface) workshops concerning mobility would be:

  • Check if the touch area on the buttons and over all designs is big enough and if the touch targets are surrounded by small amounts of inactive space. This is extremely important for a user that can have problems with tapping smaller or crumpled up UI elements.

  • Gestures in the app should be as easy as possible to carry out. This is a great tip because it will be easier for users with weaker dexterity to carry out these actions and for screen readers to replace them with voice controls.

  • While device manipulation gestures can help developers create innovative user interfaces, they can also be a challenge for people who have difficulty holding or are unable to hold a mobile device. So, try to not use controls that need the device to be physically manipulated, for instance shaked, or if this is needed, add some alternative option to do the action inside the app.

  • Be mindful of changing orientation of the screen, or if the app is single orientation, check two times if all elements can be accessed by screen readers or other assistive technologies.

  • Group elements performing the same action. When multiple elements perform the same action, for instance navigating the user to the same destination, you should probably make it one element and increase touch target for dexterity impaired users.

  • Provide clear indication that elements are actionable. Interactive elements must also be detectable by users who rely on a programmatically determined accessible name (e.g. screen reader users).

  • Provide instructions for custom touchscreen and device manipulation gestures. I have seen a lot of custom gestures in apps, and most of them are fine for users without disabilities, but can be very problematic for those who have them. So, it is good to keep in mind that they should have a good tutorial on how to operate them and probably some alternative way of interaction.

Why may mobile be more inclusive?

While plenty of folks don’t think much about this. It’s very logical that nowadays smart devices, such as mobile phones, will be the initial devices for accessibility impaired users. That is why accessibility in this area must have the highest possible regard. And moreover, those are pretty easy to carry and compact, being a game changer for countless people with motor skills disabilities. They no longer need to struggle to get to the computer and just use the mobile app which is at their fingertips. And we can observe that the tech giants see that and develop more and more interesting solutions, e.g., artificial intelligence models for better accessibility labelling like Voice Access on Android.

Why is Tinder a great match for this article?

You may see the pun I put in that title, but it’s quite true! You can see with your own eyes how the app’s interface and functions are well-structured and accessible. 


Let’s get through this screen on the image, and extract all the great accessibility features out of it: 

  • The legendary tinder swipe is possible, which gives great UX for users without disabilities. But there is also an alternative option, buttons for liking, disliking, reversing etc. perfectly accessible for users with mobility problems, and voice over technology.

  • All buttons have a clear action to them with colour coded meanings to the buttons, and are big enough to easily tap

  • The UI is minimal and very descriptive.

  • There are no custom, non-familiar and hard to access UI components or actions

So, you can see by yourself that it’s worth being like Tinder and matching your app to the same standard. If one of the biggest dating apps is seeing that there are users needing such choices, that is probably an excellent sign.

In the end it all comes down to business

And to end this part of the series, I will come back to the last point of the intro: “What are the business grounds of mobile accessibility and how to think like a mobile giant even on a lower scale”. The business grounds are pretty straightforward for me. The bigger the user base of your app, the better it is for your app. And if you are going to start thinking inclusively about new apps or features, the cost of future product development may become lower overtime, which is always beneficial. The same time, the user base will grow, spinning up the revenue and expansion of the app. Additionally, providing supplementary or just better ways of interacting with your app for users with mobility disabilities can make them even use the app in the first place. Then maybe become long-lasting fans of it, and those are the best kind of fans. Moreover, what would you say for them becoming long-lasting fans of it? It would be just splendid, especially because such fans are the best!

By “think like a giant”, I meant thinking like the giants of the business, for example like Apple, which is dearly close to my heart. They are a pretty big company with great year-to-year scores, and at the same time they create beautiful products that are accessible, cross-platform between all their devices, and stick to the same standards on all of them. This makes them great in that regard, and countless users make them their first choice. So, think like a giant. Be prepared to host your users, stick to it, and it will make you grow.

Thank you!