Testing application accessibility

Ok so it’s been a while since I have posted anything, guess I broke my plans for posting once a week. Anyways testing you apps accessibility, currently I’m talking about iOS, however the same concepts apply to Android, WP7, Rim etc. When is comes to web design there is no shortage of tools and applications to help designers and developers validate and evaluate their sites code and accessibility e.g. W3C, Wave and aDesigner. However the same cannot be said for developing native applications for the mobile platforms. Whilst the OS giants provide accessibility API’s and guidelines (some more detailed than others) they fail to supply us developers with methods of assessing how we did. Sifting through your applications page by page using the Accessibility Inspector (iOS only) can be grueling process. *ASSUMPTION ALERT* As a result developers don’t do it. They just validate, check for memory leaks and submit to the stores. Why should they care? Apple don’t! Google don’t!, Windows don’t!, Rim don’t! The applications just get approved. Misuse a icon, or cut into someones profit margins and your app will be kicked back in your face in a heartbeat. Make your print magazine or news papers available in digital format and provide no screen reader (e.g. Voice Over, Talkback) support whatsoever. APPROVED!

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iOS: Font size to fit Label

Screen of tv guide menu, showing the fonts scaling to fill the buttons

I found a little snippet of code for resizing font sizes based on a UILabel size somewhere on the web (Sorry if it was your code, I couldn’t find the page again. But all credit to you!) The code below will take in a chunk of text, font name, minimum and maximum font size and a container size (width and height), and in return it will give you the font that will fit that space.

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Preparing your iPhone app for VoiceOver

Screen shot 2010-10-03 at 20.21.36

Screen shot of iPhone simulator, demonstrating Accessibility Inspector tool

A straight forward task really, its a wonder that developers make these rookie mistakes. In all honesty the iOS SDK makes this post rather redundant ( as long as you are working with the standard components! ) but as you will see there are a number of ways you can mess this up and create serious difficulties for VoiceOver users.