New BBC Mobile Accessibility Guidelines

Tuesday 25 February 2014, 08:30

Henny Swan Henny Swan 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 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.   image1.jpg The BBC Weather app on Android and iOS phones

I would love to hear your feedback. Either leave a comment or email us at

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

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