App developers are just that - they DEVELOP apps; rarely do the app developers have first hand experience teaching students who are visually impaired and they may not be fully knowledgeable about accessibility features. As educators in the VI field, we have all stumbled across educational apps that are being used in mainstream classrooms that are NOT accessible to students who rely on a screen reader. Hopefully, we are advocating for our students and are personally contacting app developers of accessibility needs and are encouraging others (students, families, mainstream educators) to also contact the app developer. The next step is to support app developers by being willing to field test their apps and provide helpful feedback.
Providing Accessibility Feedback (Available Apps)
- Provide quick feedback in the App Store or Google Play Store by simply rating the app, choosing 1 - 5 stars.
- Provide short written feedback in the App Store or Google Play Store by writing a quick sentence or paragraph. This is a great place to praise developers for creating accessible apps or for reporting accessibility issues.
- Provide detailed feedback via email to the developer/company through their website.
What to Include
When providing feedback about a bug or accessibility issue, be sure to include what device you are using, the version of the device, and the version of the app. Include what happened and what you expected to happen. Include a screen shot of the page as this will help developers know exactly where you were (and possibly what you were doing) when the bug/issue happened. For some bugs, a quick video is often helpful. Be direct and to the point about the bug - try to limit your description to a few sentences or short paragraphs.
Process for Field Testing (Beta Version of App)
The app developer must give you (the field tester) an invitation in order for you to access an app that is currently not publicly available or if the version of the app is not yet publicly available. Most iOS app developers use Apple's TestFlight App to share beta versions of the app. (Beta simply means that this version is under development and has not been publicly released.) Currently, APH is gearing up to field test the CodeQuest app; we will use CodeQuest as an example on how to participate in field testing this app. (Note: CodeQuest is a fully accessible coding concept app for young students who are visually impaired. Learn more about signing up to field test CodeQuest here. CodeQuest will be field tested January and February 2020. If you have already signed up to field test, you should receive an email invitation to CodeQuest in Testflight during the week of January 6, 2020. If you would like to sign up, hurry! Field testing closes at the end of February 2020!)
To Install the Beta Version of the App
To use TestFlight, the app developer must have the email address that is associated with your Apple ID! You will receive an email invitation from TestFlight to this email address. The subject line will include the name of the developer and the name of the app. In this case, "American Printing House for the Blind (APH) has invited you to test CodeQuest." The email will include the app icon, a button to View in TestFlight and information such as TestFlight must be installed on your iOS device and the minimum iOS version the app requires.
- Download the free TestFlight app from the App Store.
- Open the email on your iOS device (in this case, your iPad).
Select the View in TestFlight button
- The TestFlight app will automatically open; if not, manually open the TestFlight app.
Under the title of the desired app (CodeQuest), select the Install button.
- Note: If you have more than one app available in TestFlight, you must first choose the desired app.
Go through the normal steps to install an iOS app.
- Note: There is no cost to install Beta versions of the app.
- Once the app is installed, you will find the app's icon on one of your Home screen pages. You can access the app from the icon during the trial time period.
Apps in TestFlight must be renewed by the app developer every 90 days; your app will no longer open if the developer has not renewed it. The developer may update the app at their discretion; if updated, you will receive a new email from TestFlight. Always delete the old beta version before installing the new version!
To Provide Feedback of the Beta Version of the App
There are two ways to provide feedback of the Beta version: within TestFlight and within the app.
- Open the TestFlight app
- Select the Send Beta Feedback
- Type in your feedback; you can attach a screenshot if desired
Within the Beta App:
- Open the Beta app
- Take a screen shot of the page that you are commenting on
- If desired, annotate the screen shot
- Select the Done button (popup appears with the option of Share Beta Feedback)
- Select the Share Beta Feedback
- Type in feedback
Note: You can repeat this process as many times as you want to add screenshots and feedback on different issues/parts of the app. Be sure and include things that you LIKE about the app, not just bugs and suggestions.
While you can email the app developer directly with feedback, it is preferred that you use the Share Beta Feedback as this compiles the feedback in one place for all the developers working on the app and provides a way for developers to track the progress as they work on the feedback.
The video below demonstrates the process of installing an app from TestFlight and providing feedback.