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BBC issues mobile accessibility guidelines

The BBC has drafted mobile accessibility standards guidelines for web content and applications to target device delivery and native applications.

Although designed for the BBC, the Draft Mobile Accessibility Standards and Guidelines cover subjects all web designers and developers should be mindful of, including colour, movement, input access, screen-reading, and text links and equivalents.

On the BBC’s internet blog, senior accessibility specialist Henny Swan wrote a post about the guidelines. She said the accessibility team has worked for the past 18 months with others at the BBC to ensure web and app content was accessible. Without any internationally accepted guidelines available for mobile accessibility, the team decided to write its own.

Swan explained existing accessibility guidelines were “a useful foundation", but remarked that something “more targeted” was required for mobile web and native apps. She noted differences in requirements between desktop and web, such as in colour.

“On the desktop web it is widely accepted that a contrast level of 4.5:1 is acceptable. On the mobile web, where users are on the move in changing light conditions dealing with variable levels of glare, it's questionable whether 4.5:1 is enough, so perhaps we should be aiming for something closer to 7:1,” she wrote.

The resulting standards and guidelines are technology agnostic and can apply to any platform, and three sets of techniques have then been devised to support HTML, iOS and Android. "As such the standards can be applied to any platform but the techniques are technology specific," she told .net. According to the original article, these platforms were prioritised due to most of the BBC's content being accessed via them, and iOS and Android having mature accessibility support.

Evaluation criteria has also been provided because, said Swan, the accessibility team “felt it was important for our teams to not just know what to do but also how to do it and how to verify they have implemented guidance correctly”.

If you’re looking to improve your own accessibility guidelines, the BBC’s draft should prove a good source of inspiration.