New BBC Mobile Accessibility Guidelines

Senior Accessibility Specialist

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Hi I’m Henny Swan and I work in the Accessibility team which is part of BBC Future Media. We provide tools, training, and support to teams within the BBC so that they can deliver web content and applications that are accessible to disabled audiences.

In June last year we published a draft of the BBC Mobile Accessibility Standards and Guidelines. Since then we've been listening to feedback, reviewing the standards and guidelines, and refining techniques so that today the standards can finally come out of draft. To help showcase techniques and best practices we have housed them in their own HTML app with offline storage so they can act as both a reference site as well as a prototype to showcase best practices. You can grab a copy of the BBC Mobile Accessibility Guidelines from the BBC Future Media Standards and Guidelines site.

The Standards and Guidelines are written for BBC.co.uk content developed for UK audiences and for use with the technology commonly available in the UK. They are intended as a standard for BBC employees and suppliers to follow however they can also be referenced by anyone involved in mobile development.

The standards and guidelines are organised into 11 topics. Each is listed with HTML, Android and iOS techniques, examples and evaluation criteria. As accessibility is a shared responsibility there are sections for User Experience, Editors and Developers where roles and responsibilities are defined and a summary of those issues most relevant to the role are listed.

We define standards as best practices that can easily be tested with specific criteria that is not subjective and is technologically possible to achieve with current assistive technology on mobile devices. These are issues that must pass internal tests. Guidelines are best practices that are less testable but considered core to accessible mobile website and apps. As such these should pass tests where possible.

At the BBC we consider accessibility standards and guidelines to be only the first step in delivering accessible experiences for our audiences. We aim to not just make access to news, TV, radio, weather, sport, entertainment and learning accessible but also fun, engaging and above all easy for all our users.

We've evolved the standards and guidelines with a number of apps, Weather, iPlayer, iPlayer Radio, News and Sport, testing out rationale and techniques on web, Android and iOS. The BBC Weather app was built from the ground up with accessibility in mind for both Android and iOS. A lot of work went into focus management and logical content ordering to make complex data for hourly forecasts over 5 days comprehensible to screen reader users and visually easy to follow.

The BBC Weather app on Android and iOS phones

I would love to hear your feedback. Either leave a comment or email us at AccessibilityTeam@bbc.co.uk.

Henny Swan is a Senior Accessibility Specialist, UX&D, BBC Future Media

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  • Comment number 4. Posted by Henny Swan

    on 26 Feb 2014 11:23

    Hi Dave:

    This is a bug in the prototype site rather than intended behaviour and is already set to be fixed in our next release. If you look at the source you'll see that the content is in the page, but has opacity set to 0 by a misplaced class.

    Hi K Fearon:

    If you have a look at https://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/HTML/Using_the_application_cache#Storage_location_and_clearing_the_offline_cache you'll find instructions on how to view and delete your cache. We'll update the download page with a better description and links to various resources in the next release.

  • Comment number 3. Posted by K Fearon

    on 26 Feb 2014 09:10

    Great - these look incredible. One small problem though - I'm trying to download the whole set and the download tool doesn't interact with whatever alerts the browser that a download is going on, so I can't for the life of me find where it's stored on my computer. It's not on the download screen for Firefox or Chrome. I guess this is going to be different for everyone but is there a default location it saves to?

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  • Comment number 2. Posted by DM

    on 25 Feb 2014 17:20

    By which I mean these pages, linked to from the introduction page: http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/futuremedia/accessibility/mobile

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  • Comment number 1. Posted by DM

    on 25 Feb 2014 17:04

    Not that I enjoy being negative but it did amuse me that there is a heading stating "All functionality must be available without the use of JavaScript" yet the pages have no visible content when JavaScript is disabled or fails.

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