Making the iPhone Keyboard Accessible
When we talk about accessibility, one of the first things we hear is providing keyboard access. This is all well if there is a keyboard. But have you wondered what is the situation when somebody uses a touch screen, for example an iPhone? To make matters even more confusing, these days we hear that the iPhone or the iPad is one of the most accessible devices for people with disabilities.
A touch screen on its own is an inaccessible invention. People who have difficulties moving their hands or fingers will have a hard time interacting with a touch screen. People who can't see the screen could use if they knew where to touch it.
Unfortunately, while there are some solutions, the iPhone did not bring increased accessibility to all people. However, it certainly helped the blind to a great extent. At this point I will not get into the details of how they access the iPhone, but with additional gestures implemented in the screen reader (VoiceOver), they are able to navigate from one item to the other.
In order to make an app "keyboard accessible", make sure that each item with functionality is individually focusable, as well as areas which contain information and users need to read them. If you develop many apps, it may make sense to get familiar with VoiceOver. For a quick reference, you can read a list of gestures.
However, there is a less complicated way: connect a bluetooth keyboard to your iDevice and make sure that all screen elements are focusable by the keyboard, as well as all functionalities of your app are working.
This method will ensure the required level of keyboard accessibility, including Section 508 compliance.