The Importance of Accessibility in Mobile App Development

Imagine spending countless hours and exhausting your financial resources to develop a mobile application that is everything you wanted it to be, only to discover that a large percentage of the population you’re targeting can’t use it.

That is one of the inherent risks of creating an app that hasn’t been developed with user accessibility in mind.

The World Health Organization states that nearly 1.3 billion people experience a significant disability. That’s 16% of the world’s population.

Depending on age and location, that number can go as high as 50%.

In this article, we’ll look at:

  • What mobile accessibility is
  • Why your business needs to consider it throughout development
  • How your company can implement it to be more inclusive for a larger audience

What Is Mobile App Accessibility?

Mobile accessibility is simply designing and developing websites and mobile apps that disabled members of the community can easily use on their mobile devices.

Planning for mobile accessibility should occur early in design and development since it will affect almost every feature you include.

The gold standard of mobile accessibility guidance—and the primary source of guidance for developers—is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WGAC) 2.1. This resource is the shared standard for web and mobile content accessibility for organizations worldwide.

While it’s nearly impossible to ensure your mobile app addresses every kind of disability, developing it to meet the needs of the broadest audience range possible is essential.

This includes people with significant impairments in vision, hearing, and cognitive abilities.

Embracing a Diverse World

Disabled users often feel marginalized. Not only are they grateful for accessible products, but they are very vocal and share those products when they find them.

Building a product that provides them with an engaging and rewarding experience can create brand ambassadors in the disabled community.

Business Sense

If you think about this in its simplest terms, designing and developing mobile accessibility is common sense for your company.

No one would build a product to be helpful or enjoyed by everyone knowing that a large percentage of their audience can’t use it.

Not only would doing so be unfair—not to mention potentially liable—but it would alienate users who identify themselves in greater terms than their disability.

Designing and developing a mobile application to include enhancements for disabled users may initially cost more time and money.

Still, it’s worth it in the long run if you’re creating a product that can be enjoyed and consumed by the most people possible.

It is a wise investment that will keep you above potential lawsuits and won’t hinder your ability to market to a larger audience.

ADA Compliance

Regarding potential liabilities, following the WGAC throughout the development process is the best way to ensure you comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations.

While the ADA was established well before mobile applications became the norm, numerous lawsuits and rulings over the years have set standard expectations for accessibility.

Building your mobile application with these accessibility standards in mind will help keep your company and product from possible lawsuits for ADA violations.

How to Develop Mobile Applications for Increased Accessibility

As mentioned before, the gold standard of accessibility standards is WGAC 2.1.

This globally recognized set of standards outlines the areas in which websites and mobile content should focus to address accessibility standards effectively.

While WGAC 2.1 provides explicit details for each category, we’ll highlight the main points you must consider throughout mobile app development. The four key areas are POUR:

  • Perceivable
  • Operable
  • Understandable
  • Robust


To develop a perceivable mobile application, it must include information and user information components that are presented in a way that users can more easily recognize and discern.

Ways to do this effectively include:

Text Alternatives: WGAC 2.1 identifies text alternatives such as large print, braille, speech, symbols, or simplified language to ensure everyone can easily consume non-text content on the app.

Time-Based Media: This media refers to any audio or video—live or prerecorded—that appears on the app. Several ways to cater this content to disabled audiences could include:

  • Captions
  • Audio descriptions
  • Sign language

Adaptability: Making content adaptable for your audience is an opportunity to get creative.

The design process plays a crucial role in deciding how to showcase content in different formats while retaining its structure and information.

Distinguishable: This specific category focuses mainly on users who have visual or hearing impairments.

To make content on a mobile app more distinguishable is to make it easier for them to either see or hear it by separating the foreground from the background.

This can be achieved by intentionally using colors and contrast, resizing text or visually presenting the text as an image, and creating prerecorded audio that removes or lessens any background music so that speech can be heard clearly.


To make your app more accessible, this is where the development process has a more significant role.

Creating an application with user interface components and navigation that anyone can use is crucial for building a more robust, user-friendly experience.

Keyboard Accessible: The goal is not necessarily to create a more functional keyboard but to ensure every user can operate content through a keyboard interface.

That could mean a more accessible keyboard or an alternative that allows users who are blind to operate the application without using the traditional keyboard and keystrokes.

Enough Time: Primarily created for instances when users would need to fill out forms or access pages that include their personal information, this guideline ensures each user is given the proper amount of time to consume and use the content.

Many forms and documents that use sensitive information will log out after a certain amount of time has passed without any activity. Your app should allow users to either turn off or extend time limits to complete tasks without unexpected changes in the content.

Seizures and Physical Reactions: When designing content for a mobile application, it’s important to create it in a way that keeps photosensitive users in mind.

This includes eliminating or minimizing screen flashes or allowing animations to be disabled—unless they are crucial to the app’s function or the information on the page.

Navigable: It’s essential to ensure that every user can easily navigate the app to find the content they are looking for and determine where they are always.

The most effective ways to accomplish this include titling all pages, creating a sequenced navigation menu, clearly defining where links will lead, allowing users always to know where they’re at, and more.

Input Modalities: Implementing inputs beyond the traditional keyboard makes it easier for disabled users to operate the application. This can be accomplished by creating pointer gestures, motion actuation, increased target sizes, and more.


Part of ensuring your application is accessible to all audiences is by creating an interface and using content that is easy to understand.

That means it should be easily readable in the user’s language—with a way to determine the meanings of unusual words or abbreviations quickly.

Content and pages should also be created to appear and operate predictably while helping users avoid and correct any mistakes they make while using the app.


It is considered robust if an application is developed well enough to be compatible with various user agents and assistive technologies.

This guideline considers how the content is parsed, what names, roles, and values are set for the user interface components, and how status messages are programmatically determined.

Each category must consider how they can be utilized through assistive technologies.

One Mobile Application for All

Designing and developing an inclusive and accessible mobile application has many advantages for your business.

It not only makes financial sense but also helps you avoid potential litigation, expand your audience, and create goodwill.

Regardless of your reason, ensuring anyone and everyone can access your mobile app is vital to your venture’s health and success.

It is a simple way to advocate for the more than one billion people worldwide who live with a disability.

Creating a product that helps them and benefits your company is a win-win.

Mitchell Cooper

Mitch is a Creative Writer at Taazaa. A former journalist-turned-marketer, he's spent the last 10+ years crafting compelling content for companies. A firm believer in the power of content marketing, he is always looking for an engaging way to tell a brand's story.