Should You Test Mobile Apps for Accessibility? Here's What the Stats Say

July 21, 2020

Mobile app accessibility ensures that people with disabilities can access the full range of a mobile app’s functioning. But, apps aren't automatically accessible; they must be designed and tested to be. Whether or not a developer has integrated accessibility from the get-go, testing is the key to establishing how well people can use an app.

Mobile app accessibility is different than mobile website accessibility, but testing for both can lead to a more user friendly experience no matter who your audience is. Some of the same accessibility guidelines that apply to desktop websites also apply to mobile websites. But unlike mobile websites, apps can be used offline and often require access to an individual user’s mobile phone to run. However, mobile apps aren’t automatically accessible simply because accessibility features are built into a phone. Both mobile apps and websites should follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to create an inclusive experience, which begins with the accessibility mindset and is validated by testing.

A look at some key statistics highlight why testing is so important.

Mobile apps usage is increasing worldwide, and since the pandemic, they’re a necessity

Mobile app downloads (PDF) reached 33.6 billion worldwide in the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 20.3% from the previous year. Since the coronavirus pandemic, business and education app downloads have more than doubled. These apps are becoming a greater necessity, which means accessibility is too.

Accessibility is crucial for all mobile apps, but particularly in our current environment where video conferencing apps, for example, are often the only means users have for attending meetings, classes, and socializing. As the world continues to conduct life online, accessibility has become more urgent than ever.

The percentage of people with disabilities worldwide is expected to grow

Disability statistics alone illustrate the necessity of mobile app accessibility and the importance of testing. According to the World Health Organization, about 15% of the world’s population, or around 1 billion people, has some form of disability, a number expected to double by 2050.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey (2018) found that 41.3 million (16.5%) American adults aged 18 and over experience trouble hearing. Further, 32.2 million (12.9%) American adults of the same age range have some form of vision trouble.

The sheer number of people worldwide and here in the United States with disabilities illustrate the dire need for mobile app accessibility.

Accessibility lawsuits continue at high numbers

Statistics paint a picture: With expected increases in app usage and accessibility litigation, and a growing population of people with disabilities, mobile app accessibility is more important than ever.

Download your Definitive Checklist for Mobile Accessibility

Apps should be tested and fixed to be accessible, a task that will be much easier if accessibility is a consideration throughout the design and development. For a great starting point, download the Definitive Checklist for Mobile Accessibility.

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