Under the agreement, NFBMA and Square will work together to make certain improvements to the accessibility of the Square apps on Apple iOS by September 30, 2013. In addition, after December 31, 2013, Square will consider Apple iOS Accessibility Guidelines in the development of any future versions of the Square Apps or new mobile applications so that blind users of VoiceOver Screen Access Software may enjoy the same services Square offers to sighted users. For Android users, Square and NFBMA will meet over the coming months to work to enhance the accessibility of Square’s apps on that platform.
App developers should follow Square’s leadership. Developers should proactively adjust their design processes to ensure that their apps offered to the public are more accessible to all users, including those who are blind.
Incorporating access for blind and other disabled users into a design is not difficult when accessibility is considered early in the design process. Apple has published thorough guidelines
that explain how to build an accessible app and incorporate accessibility checks as a habit into the design process. Likewise, Google has supported similar guidelines
for the Android platform. App developers might also consider the utility of the WCAG 2.0 technical standards
as applied to apps
or, if developing for any level of government, the Section 508 standards
and the pending update
to those standards. For a further example of how to apply these technical standards to mobile app development, see the BBC’s future media and mobile accessibility design guidelines
The advent of digital information is a window of opportunity for blind and other disabled people. If developers invest a small amount of time to think about accessible design, this opportunity will be realized and developers will enjoy the benefits of a larger and more appreciative market share.