Like websites on desktop and mobile devices, standalone applications must be accessible to individuals with disabilities to be compliant with established laws and guidelines.

What is an app?

Any program or software application can be considered an app. It is a broad term that can include programs or applications on desktop or mobile devices. Most commonly, people use the term app to refer to applications that run on smartphones and tablets.

Gaming, reading, shopping, banking, social networking, and countless activities and industries have mobile apps, with more created every day.

Why do apps have to be accessible?

Like websites, apps provide digital access to goods and services. Laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. If individuals with disabilities can't use an app fully and independently because of accessibility barriers, that can constitute discrimination.

How can apps be made accessible?

Like websites and all systems that are used digitally, apps should be:

  • Designed and developed according to established standards;
  • Manually tested for accessibility by experts on the device types and operating systems that the app will be available on;
  • Fixed to remove the accessibility barriers identified in testing; and
  • Monitored and maintained on a regular basis.

Because apps vary so greatly in purpose, function, and design, they need to be tested and considered on a case-by-case basis. Subject matter experts might assess an app as a standalone product with its own features and distinctions, while considering some standard of consistency and expected behavior so people know how to use it.