Odds are your app is not being used by as many people as it should be. Most likely, this is the case no matter how awesome your marketing campaign has been nor how popular your app may be. Simply put, if your app is not accessible to people with disabilities, it is not accessible to everyone.
And, when you get right down to it, don’t you want your app to be used by all? I know I do.
Aren’t We Talking About Just a Handful of People?
The number of people who cannot use your app due to an impairment or disability is larger than you think. After all, many disabilities cannot be seen, so we must not assume that those around us are disability-free, because some of them aren’t.
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15.3% of all adults in the United States have hearing trouble, while 9.4% have vision trouble. This pencils out to 60 million adults your app may never serve assuming your app accessibility is lacking. It just does not make sense to ignore one out of every four American adults, does it?
Legally, Do I Have to Improve My App Accessibility?
No, presently, you do not have to make your app accessible to people with disabilities. While the Americans with Disabilities Acts (ADA) guarantees people with disabilities equal access to public accommodations, no court has ruled that an app is a public accommodation.
However, that very well could change. Companies have already had to pay big bucks after being sued for their websites not being fully ADA compliant. Carnival Cruise Line was forced to pay $405,000 due to its websites AND apps not being fully accessible, while Target paid $10 million for the same issue with its website as the National Basketball Association was sued for its website not accommodating people who were blind or have vision impairment.
Don’t Wait for the Law
But, why wait for the law to change? Do the right thing simply because that is the kind of person you are!
It is like your mom used to say, “Just because you can do it, it does not mean you should.” However, when it comes to improving your app accessibility, your mom would tell you, “Just because you do not have to do it, it does not mean you shouldn’t do it.”
When you increase your app’s accessibility, you are planting that tree Warren Buffett talks about in the quote to the right. Improve your app accessibility to give those 60 million Americans with disabilities, if you will, a place to sit in the shade. Oh, and please keep in mind that that 60 million figure is only going to increase as the American population continues to age.
What Exactly Is An Accessible App?
An accessible app is one that presents content in a variety of ways so that all users can access it. Its content:
- is compatible with assistive web technologies
- is easy to hear and see
- does not time out so that users can access it at their own pace
- has flashing lights that can be turned off so it does not cause seizures
- comes with a variety of font options such as white-on-black, bold, and underlined so that it can be made to be accessible to all.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. It is a list that is ever evolving. To keep up to date with app accessibility options, check out the Web Accessibility initiative (W3C).
“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”
— Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web