WhatsApp ‘highly accessible’ for persons with disabilities; How other apps rank

The top 10 identified applications have been rated as apps with ‘high accessibility’, ‘moderate accessibility’ and ‘low accessibility’ based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). WhatsApp, used by more than two billion people in over 180 countries to stay in touch with friends and family, anytime and anywhere, has been ranked India’s most accessible app for persons with disabilities, according to a recent report titled ‘Making the Digital Ecosystem Disabled Friendly,’ which evaluated the popular apps across categories like messaging, online payments, transport, e-commerce and food delivery. The Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy along with I-Stem and Mission Accessibility conducted a first-of-its-kind evidence-based evaluation of the accessibility of ten of the most widely used apps in India. WhatsApp emerged as the only app that was rated as ‘highly accessible’ based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) which serve as the global benchmark for determining if, and to what extent, a website is disabled-friendly. Other apps audited in the report include PhonePe, PayTM, Swiggy, Zomato, Amazon, Flipkart, Telegram, Uber and Ola. The top 10 identified applications were rated as apps with ‘high accessibility’, ‘moderate accessibility’ and ‘low accessibility’ based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). WhatsApp meetings over 60 were thus rated as the only app with ‘high accessibility’. The co-author of the report said Apps and websites have enormous potential to empower the disabled. If they are not designed with their needs in mind, however, they can replicate the barriers the disabled otherwise face. The core premise driving the report is that digital accessibility is a right, not a matter of charity, and most consumer-facing apps must be cognizant of the role they play across multiple societal segments. In addition to the all-pervasive role technology plays in today’s digital-first world, every service provider in India, whether government or private, is mandatorily expected to make their services disabled-friendly under the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. The report suggests that to create a truly inclusive digital ecosystem, websites and apps need to ensure they are designed in compliance with WCAG or Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) standards. It is important to recognise accessibility by design and to incorporate it into any technological output intended for public use. The researchers also intend to launch a review portal where people with disabilities can rate the accessibility of websites. In the future, the portal will be designed so that users with disabilities can provide service providers with immediate feedback on how they can improve themselves for the disabled.

Source: Hindustan Times