IBM tool tests mobile apps for people with disabilities

16 March 2015 2 min. read

As a result of usability issues, such as low colour contrast, many mobile apps are not designed for people with disabilities and the elderly. To address this issue, IBM has developed a new tool, the Mobile Accessibility Checker, which tests the accessibility features of iOS and Android mobile apps and alerts developers of any accessibility breaches, after which it offers help to resolve them.

In the interconnected world of today, more than 60% of the world’s population uses a mobile device every day. This could be for a variety of reasons, including working, shopping, reading or watching the news, checking email, listening to music, or texting and making calls. In 2014, the use of mobile applications (apps) grew with 76%, with 1.3 million mobile apps available through Android and 1.2 million through Apple’s App Store as of July 2014. 

Mobile Accessibility Checker
To help app developers design apps that are accessible for billion people with disabilities, including those who are vision and hearing impaired, as well as the elderly, IBM has developed the ‘Mobile Accessibility Checker’. This checker is an automated tool created for iOS and Android mobile apps to test their accessibility features. The tool will automatically alert developers to accessibility breaches, such as colour contrasting and keyboard navigation, and then helps resolve the issues to ensure adherence to accessibility standards and government regulations and to deliver an optimised mobile user experience.

IBM tool tests mobile apps for people with disabilities

As part of the Checker’s rollout, IBM will collaborate with accessibility software and services organisation SSB BART Group to create a new mobile accessibility management platform: the SSB BART Accessibility Management Platform for Mobile. This platform will integrate the Mobile Accessibility Checker to produce an automated testing engine for mobile applications and mobile web content on both iOS and Android devices. 

Commenting on the new Checker, IBM Chief Accessibility Officer Frances West says: “Mobile technology has sparked a new era of opportunity for people of all ages and abilities, yet many mobile apps have design flaws that prevent people with disabilities and the elderly from using them effectively. Our researchers saw an opportunity to address this by inventing technology that identifies and corrects usability issues early in the software development process. This makes mobile apps easier to use for people with disabilities, helps developers save on costs and satisfy compliance requirements, and drives greater inclusivity in our communities through mobile technology.”