I’ve been so focused all summer on getting Foodlapse ready to be launched on iOS 16 release day that I never wrote about my first WWDC accessibility lab.
I used to be shy about signing up for WWDC labs but I learned that’s a mistake. This year I decided to try an accessibility lab and I am definitely going to be signing up for another one in the future.
Pardon the gap
We’re not allowed to record WWDC labs so this blog post is based on my memory about an event almost four months ago and some notes that I was furiously taking while also trying to follow what the three participants were sharing with me. It’s almost a certainty that I’m going to have some mistakes and omissions.
My first question was about how I handled a stylized third party font I had acquired. I noticed that when large a11y fonts were in use it took up a lot more room. I therefore switched the regular system font if I detected a11y fonts but I was bothered about whether that was a good course of action or not. Turns out it wasn’t. Accessibility users shouldn’t be left out of seeing a stylized interface. I stopped doing that and ended up switching to the newer variations of Apple’s San Francisco font and I think things ended up looking better for everyone!
I asked for some miscellaneous tips about accessibility.
- If you’re trying to decide how to handle some accessibility choices look at Apple standard apps and see how they handle them.
- Be careful with how you handle dark mode and also inverting colors. They can cause issues for some users.
- You can long press on some UI elements to see large versions of them.
- Switch control with a real device can be something good to look into. I had to research this and was amazed by this video. I also wrote in my notes that “screen can be a switch” but am not sure what that means.
My other apps
I also gave a demo of my other apps, Snack Plan and Museum Shuffle to see what they thought of my accessibility. One of the Apple employees said that they had low vision. This particular interface element that I added to Museum Shuffle got the most enthusiastic response from him. Ironically, it’s something that I thought I would get “in trouble” for adding. Instead of just having a star-shaped button that fills in when you add some artwork to your favorites I also pop up a temporary text bubble (that supports dynamic text) that indicates what happened.
He ended up telling me that I had some of the best large text work he’s seen in a while, which I couldn’t believe and made me incredibly happy.
An especially great tip that I got was to post my app on the forums on the AppleVis website for feedback.
Founded in 2010, AppleVis is the leading online resource for blind and low vision users of Apple products such as the Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.
I had completely forgotten about this tip until I went back and reviewed my notes for this blog post. I made sure to fill out the AppleVis contact form and expressed my intent. I quickly got a response back encouraging me to post about my app. Tips I got were that it’s helpful if I gave a description of the app and its purpose as well as pointing out if there are areas or features I specifically wanted feedback on. In my case I was curious if I was handling VoiceOver properly.
This feedback that I got from a forum member made me so happy.
I can’t comment on the what you’ve done for low vision users or any additional screens that are present after purchasing the upgrade, but everything that I could test worked great with VoiceOver. I particularly like that you have taken advantage of the VoiceOver enhancements that can be made to charts.
I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending the app to any VoiceOver user who wants a quick and easy way to track certain basic things. Nicely done!
I highly recommend other developers make use of AppleVis!
Update Oct 2, 2022
AppleVis has a directory where you can “see what apps others are recommending”. As a developer you do NOT submit your own app. The forum member who gave me feedback was nice enough to also submit my app. Not only did it get posted there, but Foodlapse was also included in the AppleVis monthly newsletter. Thanks AppleVis!
Accessibility is incredibly important and this lab gave me a lot more insight into it. It was a rewarding experience and I encourage you to sign up for one at the next WWDC!
If this post was helpful to you I’d love to hear about it! Find me on Twitter.