Yesterday myself and a group of ladies attended the #GirlsTechLCR event and ran workshops on mobile accessibility.
We were asked by Ahead Partnership to run four 30 minute sessions to girls aged between 12 and 14 who have an interest in perusing a career in technology.
We decided that we would have a few planning sessions to get us all comfortable on what we would be delivering.
In the first session we decided on the app we were going to use for the demonstrations and whether we were more comfortable delivering the session on Android or iOS phones. As we all seemed to be iPhone users, we settled on iOS.
Following this, the accessibility expert showed us how to set up VoiceOver, and how it is used.
While looking at setting up the VoiceOver option, we realised that there were so many options for making phones accessible, such as pushing everything over to one side if you can only use one hand – this would be helpful for mothers who are breastfeeding or if you had a broken arm – and that you can switch the parallax design off, which would benefit those that suffer from vertigo.
After seeing all of these options it became clear that we would have to reiterate the point to the girls that the session we would be delivering would only benefit one disability, not all.
We then started talking about test scenarios and what parts of the estate on the app would be best to use for demonstration purposes, we decided that we would have one journey that would be fully native and accessible, as well as one that has room for improvement.
One thing I took away from this first session was that native development is much better than responsive, as the accessibility goes up.
The second planning session we had was much more interactive as we had a go at usingVoiceOver and enabling Screen Curtain – three-finger quadruple-tap if zoom is enabled, three-finger triple-tap if zoom is disabled.
We did this to see how well we could navigate the user journey we were setting for the girls.
I found getting used toVoiceOver gestures difficult, but when I discovered there was a VoiceOver practice section in Settings > General > Accessibility > Voiceover, it became a lot easier.
Using VoiceOver Practice
I had to ask Siri to close VoiceOver a lot though as I kept getting stuck and locked out of my phone!
I had a lot of admiration for those that have to use VoiceOver before, however, it wasn’t until I’d tried to use it myself that I really realised how much of a skill it is!
I’ve been to quite a few events to showcase the work we do in the digital sector and this one is definitely at the top!
It was the most interactive sessions I’ve ever had the pleasure of running and watching all the girls get so involved in it was so rewarding!
Our session entailed trialling VoiceOver and using VoiceOver practice, and then when the girls felt confident with navigating the phones we had provided, we turned on Screen Curtain and gave them tasks to complete.
They couldn’t believe how difficult it was to use VoiceOver and really sympathised with the visually impaired at the lengths they have to go to complete just one user journey.
They even started getting angry at how difficult some of the journeys were – which was exactly the point we wanted to get across!
Accessibility is such an important factor in the development of an app, and it always should be!
We should be striving to cut the journey time, and make sure our wording is not misleading, as this just adds more time and frustration to the user’s experience.
All in all I think we really hit the point that we wanted to – that accessibility is extremely important and we should always create apps with this at the forefront of our minds!