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WCAG and mobile

The very short version: version 2.1 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines applies to mobile native apps too.

Although some of the language around techniques and failures can be quite web-centric, many of the Success Criteria can be applied directly to mobile native apps. For example:

  • all non-text content must have a text alternative;
  • interactive elements (like links, buttons, form fields) must have an accessible name;
  • colour contrast must be at least 4.5:1 for text, 3:1 for UI elements.

An older page but still relevant page, Mobile Accessibility: How WCAG 2.0 and Other W3C/WAI Guidelines Apply to Mobile, covers Success Criteria that related to mobile. It includes considerations such as:

  • touchscreen control, target size, and gestures;
  • providing clear indication that elements are actionable;
  • easy data entry including setting the virtual keyboard to the type of data entry required;
  • supporting the characteristic properties of the platform.

Guidance on Applying WCAG 2.0 to Non-Web Information and Communications Technologies (WCAG2ICT) is a lengthy document that goes through each WCAG 2.0 SC and gives advice on applying the guidance, noting where it can applied directly.

WCAG 2.1 and mobile

How to Meet WCAG (Quick Reference) has a mobile tag to filter the Success Criteria by. Some key items:

  • respect users’s settings;
  • don’t require multi-touch or device motion;
  • have big enough touch targets.

Later versions of the WCAG

Version 2.2 is due out around August 2023. It adds some new Success Criteria that are particularly relevant for native mobile apps. See What WCAG 2.2 Means for Native Mobile Accessibility for more detail. Some examples:

  • more rules around focus styles;
  • having alternatives to drag and drop;
  • having accessible authentication.

Version 3 of WCAG will be renamed to W3C Accessibility Guidelines. This is still early work in progress, but proposes broader guidance. See A brief overview of WCAG 3.0 for more detail. WCAG 3.0 includes specific mention of mobile native apps. From Goals and requirements (emphasis added):

The goal of WCAG 3 and supporting documents is to make digital products including web, ePub, PDF, applications, mobile apps, and other emerging technologies more accessible and usable to people with disabilities.