IBM researchers have created a new tool for iOS and Android mobile applications expected to potentially benefit as many as one billion people with disabilities worldwide, including those who are vision and hearing impaired, as well as the elderly. The new Mobile Accessibility Checker (http://tinyurl.com/qccdd37) is an automated test to help strengthen the accessibility features of mobile applications, says Frances West, IBM’s chief accessibility officer.
“Our researchers saw an opportunity to address this by inventing technology that identifies and corrects usability issues early in the software development process,” West says. “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.”
The Mobile Accessibility Checker is designed to help developers identify and correct usability issues early in development to deliver an optimized mobile user experience. The tool automatically alerts developers to accessibility breaches, such as color contrasting and keyboard navigation and focus, and recommends corrections to help developers adhere to industry standards and government regulations.
Current accessibility tools can only check for one breach element at a time and do not account for individuals with poor vision, so the contrast isn’t adjusted, West says. In addition, control spacing, button size and font size are not accounted for in current tools.
As a part of the Mobile Accessibility Checker rollout, IBM is collaborating with SSB BART Group, an accessibility software and services organization, to create a new mobile accessibility management platform utilizing Mobile Accessibility Checker. The SSB BART Accessibility Management Platform for Mobile integrates IBM’s Mobile Accessibility Checker to produce an automated testing engine for native mobile applications and mobile web content, designed to increase the user experience on both iOS and Android devices. IBM Mobile Accessibility Checker is also available as a service or software component from IBM.