According to a study (Swiss Central Association for the Blind, 2020) there are about 377,000 visually impaired people living in Switzerland. In relation to the entire Swiss population, this represents more than 4% of all Swiss citizens.
Reason enough for Wetter-Alarm to commission appculture to optimize the app in terms of accessibility.
The changes in the app were developed in close cooperation with the Swiss Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (SBV). Wetter-Alarm was analyzed in detail by employees of the SBV. In an iterative procedure, the identified potential for improvement was continuously implemented.
Which functions were optimized?
The Wetter Alarm app for iOS devices has been redesigned in such a way that elements are recognized by the screen reader function (screen reading software) pre-installed on the devices and can be read in an understandable way.
Components that cannot be processed by the screen reader have been deactivated to minimize delays and optimize usability. Among other things, the app now reads out the weather forecast for a specific location or provides information about water data. Areas have been appropriately titled, summarized where necessary, and their functionality has been optimized.
A complete optimization with regard to accessibility includes not only the screenreader function, but also the font size and contrast settings that can be adjusted according to preferences. For this reason, adjustments were also made to the contrast settings. There are currently two further options available for optimizing the appearance, in which the greatest possible contrast makes the information easier to read. The dark mode also helps to minimize battery consumption on AMOLED devices.
First and foremost, the improvements have been implemented for blind and severely visually impaired persons. However, people with impaired vision can also benefit as a supplement to normal operation so that their eyes do not tire additionally.
A person is considered to be visually impaired if visual acuity is less than 0.3 or the field of vision is less than 10 degrees. In order to be able to read a newspaper normally, a person needs a visual acuity of 0.4 to 0.5, and a person who wants to drive a car must be able to prove a visual acuity of 0.6. According to the World Health Organization WHO, a person is considered blind if his visual acuity is below 0.05.
For people without visual impairments, nothing changes in terms of design and operation of the app.
First experiences are now being gathered with the implemented optimizations. Further tests and discussions with affected persons will follow and further optimizations will be derived from them. Whether the Android version will be adapted as well is still under review.