How Do I Get My App an Accessibility Audit?
This is a common question I get asked - how do I go about arranging an accessibility audit for my app so I know where I can make improvements? If you’re truly looking for an answer to that question then I have a few options for you below, but first, are you asking the right question?
Accessibility Isn’t About Box Ticking
You can’t make your app accessible by getting a report, fixing the findings, and accepting it as done. Accessibility is a constant process of improvement to make sure your app works better for as many people as possible. This could mean adopting new accessibility APIs as they become available, or it could mean reacting to feedback you receive from your users. Disability happens when someone’s abilities don’t mesh with the tools we have provided, and as disability is such a wide spectrum there will always be someone disabled by your app. How that manifests will vary depending on your app, the people using it, and over time, so one assessors report is not enough to claim your app is 100% accessible, because there is no such thing. To claim this is both naive and a little offensive.
It’s Easier if You Start Building Accessibly
Building a feature then trying to bolt on accessibility fixes later will be much higher effort, it will take longer, cost more, and probably result in a worse experience. On the web, accessibility overlays are common; a bolt-on intended to absolve the developers from having to think about accessibility with the promise of a magical fix. Except many find these tools actually make the experience worse. You could find that something you have built has a fundamental flaw in your design that means your entire feature needs re-thinking. It could also damage your reputation, a recent example being Twitter releasing their voice tweets feature without considering how deaf users might experience them.
Accessibility Professionals Who Can Help
I applaud that you have taken the step to look for professional help to make your app more accessible, but consider what you are asking them to help with - by shifting accessibility left you will get a better experience for your customers, faster, and at less expense than testing for accessibility at the end. Get a professional who can help you throughout the whole process, don’t bring someone in at the end to tell you what you did wrong, this won’t be a good experience for anybody. An accessibility audit is part of the process of making an accessible app. But if you include accessibility throughout the process there should be no nasty surprises at the end, and importantly, don’t stop there. Include people with disabilities in user testing, encourage feedback, and listen and respond to what you hear.