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BBC Issues Draft Guidelines for Mobile Accessibility

A draft set of standards and guidelines to make BBC web content and apps more accessible when viewed on mobile devices has been released by the corporation following a year of testing and development.

The Draft BBC Mobile Accessibility Standards and Guidelines were announced in a blog post by Henny Swan, senior accessibility specialist at the BBC. Up to now the BBC’s existing accessibility guidelines have been used as a basis for creating accessible mobile content, Swan says, but it was felt that more specific mobile standards were now needed.

“We have our BBC Accessibility Standards and Guidelines in-house, [but] these were produced in 2005 when mobile was not as dominant as it is now”, Swan told E-Access Bulletin. “They are also geared towards HTML and don’t speak to designers and developers working on native apps. The same goes for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines [WCAG]… While much of it is suited to the mobile web it didn’t fit what we needed exactly and wasn’t something that native app developers or designers identified with.”

Three sets of standards and guidelines were initially developed by the BBC, for HTML, iOS, and Android – the three most common platforms used to access mobile content, and also those that have “the most mature accessibility support”, writes Swan in her blog post. These three sets were then merged to create an overall document, covering accessibility in a wide range of areas including: editorial; images; design; structure; navigation; notifications, and links. For each, there are examples of how to implement each requirement or recommendation on all three platforms for testing.

“The plan [now] is to write techniques for additional platforms as and when the need arises,” writes Swan on the blog, “but this doesn’t stop our teams applying these standards and guidelines for Windows Phone, Blackberry and other platforms in the meantime.”

Although the guidelines were developed for accessing BBC content on mobile devices, Swan said she hopes other organisations will be able to benefit from them. Feedback from all is invited, with plans to make a final version available in due course.

The Draft BBC Mobile Accessibility Standards and Guidelines, short link:
http://bbc.in/128pjNL

Full link for draft guidelines:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/futuremedia/accessibility/mobile_access.shtml

Henny Swan’s blog post announcing the guidelines, short link:
http://bbc.in/14fJLQ2

Full link for Henny Swan’s blog post:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/internet/posts/Accessibility-Mobile-Apps )

NOTE: Henny Swan explains more about the BBC Draft Mobile Accessibility Guidelines in a special report in this issue of E-Access Bulletin:
http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=907

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