The App Store and Google Play are full of educational apps geared for all levels of students. Mainstream classroom teachers are using these fun educational apps to help students learn and practice math, reading, and other subjects. Students thoroughly enjoy playing these games. However, what can YOU do when a mainstream app is not accessible?
Inaccessible Educational Apps
- Write an app review that includes a request for accessibility. If possible, summarize the specific accessibility issue (Example: Next Button is not labeled for a screen reader.)
Go to the app's website to contact the company directly with specific information and suggestions.
- Include general information about your student. (Example: I use this app in my third grade class; however, one of my students is blind and uses a screen reader. He is unable to move to the next page of the app because VoiceOver does not read the Next button.)
- Encourage your student to self-advocate by writing an app review and/or contacting the company directly.
- Encourage other educators and family members to write an app review.
Some app developers are not aware of accessibility needs while other app developers do not prioritize accessibility. App reviews and ratings are important to developers/app companies! Bringing awareness to accessibility issues - especially when multiple people review or contact the app company - will drive the direction for app updates or future apps.
Common Accessibility Issues
Many of the apps geared for preschool and elementary-age students use visual inaccessible graphics, layouts with animated/moving pieces, and inaccessible Technically Enhanced Items (TEIs) such as Drag and Drop without including accessibility features. Many of these issues can be easily resolved, such as labeling buttons, adding alt text image descriptions, including accessible Drag and Drop features and including other universal design features. Some issues are fundamental to the initial design of the app and are not easily resolved after the app has been developed. It is important that app developers consider accessibility before designing an app.
Accessible Educational Apps
Just as it is important to rate and review inaccessible apps, it is also important to support accessible apps by rating and reviewing them! Mainstream app developers need positive feedback - especially when they have worked hard to make and maintain the accessibility of their app! There are a small number of groups that have created wonderful, accessible apps specifically for students with visual impairments. These companies tend to be small and often rely on outside funding to create and maintain their apps. Funding sources look at the number of downloads and they look at the app's rating and reviews. It is critical that users actively support these accessible apps!
Sonokids has created several apps to specifically teach VoiceOver gestures. Phia Damsma and John Norgaard, with Sonokids, are currently working on new apps and have recently sent out a request for users to support their work. Below is request:
Love our Tech Ed game apps? Want to support Sonokids’ ongoing development of similar apps?
It only takes one minute of your time to rate one or more of our apps on the AppStore.
Ratings and reviews on the App Store really help us!
How to Rate and/or Review an App
Note: These directions apply to any iOS app that you would like to rate or review.
- Open the AppStore app and in the search field enter ‘Ballyland Magic’, ‘Ballyland Rotor’, or ‘VO Lab’
- Search, and tap the app when it shows up.
- Select ‘Reviews’ and tap the stars to Rate/write a review.
Note that you need to own the app to be able to Rate it.
Thank you so much for your support, and please ask other ‘fans’ to do the same!
How to Rate and/or Review an App using VoiceOver
- Open the App Store app on your iPad.
- Flick to the Search field and double tap to edit.
- Enter the name of the app, then double tap the ‘Search’ button at the bottom right corner of the screen. Once the Search has finished it will read you the first result.
- Flick through the search results apps, until you find the app you were looking for, and double tap the app.
- Flick to the ‘Reviews’ button, double tap to open.
- Flick to the adjustable rating and swipe up and down to adjust the number of stars.