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How to Design the Most Accessible Apps and Games: Part II

Accessibility in mobile development means making apps and games for people with different sets of abilities. Here's the final part of this two-part series about reaching an audience you may be missing.

· Mobile Zone

If you missed Part I, be sure to read it here!

Accessibility Tips for People with Motor Impairment

Motor impairment exists in 3 forms.

There are people with permanent motor impairment meaning they can never move a certain part of their body. People with temporary motor impairment include those that have injured a limb or other body part, and now have limited movement until the injury heals.

Finally, there are players with situational motor impairment. This means they’re motor impaired for a short time period, possibly because they’re carrying another object or their location prevents full access to their device.

In any case, there are a number of techniques you can employ to make your app or game more accessible to the motor impaired.

7. A Universal Input Method

When designing your app or game, it’s important to consider the different ways that a user can physically interact with your UI elements. Mobile devices now allow for a number of different gestures. However, what might be a simple swipe or double tap for you, might present a dead end to users with motor impairments.

universal input

This is why it’s important to have a universal input method when using your app or game. This might mean adding extra on-screen buttons to allow one-tap navigation. But it also means that your app or game will be accessible to all users.

Test out your next app or game and see if you can navigate and even play your game with one finger. If you get stuck on a screen or need to restart the app to find the home screen then you need to find a universal input method to make your project accessible.

8. Allow for Sensitivity Adjustments

Once you’ve found your universal input method, the next step in making your app or game more accessible is to allow for sensitivity adjustments.

Depending on a user’s motor impairment, they may need to have more or less sensitive controls than you have decided upon. By allowing users to set the sensitivity of controls, you allow them to replicate the user experience of users without their impairment.

There is no perfect level of control sensitivity, even for users without impairments, so this is a crucial accessibility feature for almost everyone. To give users the most options, make sure that the sensitivity can be adjusted to compensate for problems with both precision (low sensitivity) and restricted movement (high sensitivity).

9. Make Your Controllers Big

As many mobile gamers first started playing on game consoles with traditional D-Pad controllers, they adapt well to a similar input method on their mobile devices. It’s a proven system and one that works well for the majority of gamers.

SONY DSC

Players with motor impairments won’t thank you for making on-screen buttons the same size as they are on a physical controller. Give them big buttons with enough space in between them so they can get the full user experience. V-Play has a useful controller component that you can quickly implement into your own game.

Accessibility Tips for People with Cognitive Impairments

Cognitive impairments cover a vast range of impairments that can include memory loss, problems navigating systems and low-level reading ability. These issues can be overcome with the help of the following guidelines.

10. Quick Game or Quick Start Mode

For sufferers of dyspraxia and other similar conditions, it can be hard to set up a game that requires a number of choices to be made beforehand. Picking a team, character, color, etc., can become an issue for players with these issues, so it’s better if these decisions can be avoided.

The best way to achieve this is by enabling a quick game or quick start mode in your game. This allows players with these impairments to engage easily with your game. Even if you never intended for your game to be played this way, you can still benefit from the engagement this will create within your app or game.

11. Use Clear Language

The use of clear language within your app or game for both UI elements and gameplay is a major factor in creating an accessible project. Besides dyslexia, you’re also going to have a lot of users from foreign countries and native speakers with low-level reading abilities trying to navigate your app or game.

By using clear language, you reduce the risk of users becoming disengaged. The simplest way to ensure the language you’re using is clear and easy to understand is to try and reduce the amount of words you use. If you can relabel a button so it’s only using 1 word instead of 3, then you’re on the right road to accessible design.

If you’re unable to reduce the amount of words you use, then try to reduce the amount of characters you use. When it comes to reading; always keep things as simple as possible.

12. Let Players Control Text Prompts

If your game is going to have sections that require reading, it’s important that you let players with cognitive impairments read at their own pace. Let them decide when to show the next piece of text and you’ll have made things much more accessible for them.

dialogue

Image Via YouTube

Much like the issue of sensitivity control, this is a matter of design that affects even the unimpaired. Significant differences in reading speed exist between players of all age brackets. This makes automatic scrolling a poor choice in any case.

As well as letting players decide when they read the next piece of info, you should also include an option for players to read back over old text prompts or messages. Giving your players unfiltered access to game text promotes huge engagement opportunities.

Resources for Accessible Mobile App & Game Design

Besides the guidelines listed here for accessible design, there are a number of other resources you should consider. Both Apple and Google have their own set of accessibility guidelines and checklists which you can see here:

These official documentation pages contain a lot of info for mobile developers so it’s worth reading through before you release your app or game.

It’s easy to make your V-Play app or game accessible thanks to a number of accessibility classes from Qt. You can see their introduction to accessibility here and the accessibility class for qml components here.

Make Your V-Play App or Game Accessible

For information on advanced accessibility, check out this guide from gameaccessibilityguidelines.com

Got More Tips?

If you’ve got extra tips for making accessible apps and games, or if you know really good accessible apps or games you want to share, let us know in the comments section. Thanks for reading, and if you’ve made it this far, why not share this article with your friends!

Topics:
mobile ,apps ,development ,impairment ,accessibility

Published at DZone with permission of Michael Organ. See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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