This study set out with the aim of finding out how well W3C accessibility guidelines support the development of mobile games. This was evaluated by researching how well-known the current accessibility guidelines are, as well as how important participants feel these are, the guidelines these participants would add or improve on and ultimately, how well they feel these guidelines support the development of mobile games.
The data collected from the interviews consists of five parts:
The current awareness of accessibility guidelines when designing for mobile games;
The importance of the accessibility guidelines known by participants;
The importance of existing W3C accessibility guidelines;
Recommendations for W3C accessibility guidelines in the future, and;
The overall success of existing W3C accessibility guidelines.
The purpose of the first task was to gain an insight into the current awareness participants have of existing accessibility guidelines as well as their opinions on the importance of these guidelines. A number of accessibility guidelines were identified by the participants, however a recurrent theme in the interviews was the accessibility guidelines relating to visual impairments. Participants did not mention the Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Readable (POUR) principles that exist within WCAG and a large amount of comments focused on the visual aspects of accessibility. These views surfaced mainly in relation to users with low vision, as P5 stated:
Because I’m visually impaired, text is bad if you don’t have good contrast to the background because the phone is smaller than a computer screen, so you can’t see the text as big.
Similarly, P2 stated:
If you’ve got issues with reading you can make text bigger if there is text on the screen.
Another accessibility guideline identified was guidelines relating to Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD). P1, P2, P3 and P4 all mentioned guidelines which aid users with CVD. As one interviewee said:
Games where you have colourful bubbles and you have to select the ones that are one colour. Often I see those have settings where you can make those not colours but forms like triangles so people who are colour blind can select shapes instead of colours.
A small number of those interviewed also suggested that seizure guidance was an important accessibility guideline (P1 and P5). P1 stated:
Seizures are dangerous and so it is important to avoid these.
This view was echoed by P5 who also found this to be of importance when designing accessible mobile games:
Seizures can affect anyone at any time so flashing images can catch people out.
A minority of respondents noted accessibility guidelines relating to cognitive disabilities. P2 and P4 mentioned accessibility guidelines that could aid users with cognitive disabilities with P2 stating:
Text to speech translation would be important for people with issues reading so if you’ve got dyslexia you might not be able to read the text as easily
Whilst participants had very clear views on visual accessibility challenges, it became clear in all interviews that there was a limited amount of knowledge participants on other aspects of accessibility guidelines. The results gathered from this section showed that the overall current knowledge of WCAG is minimal for this set of participants.
This view is supported by Shneiderman and Hochheiser (2001), stating that there are gaps in user knowledge in relation to designing programs which are universally usable and accessible. Further development should be undertaken to ensure that the overall awareness of all aspects of accessibility guidelines should be focused on. It is important to ensure that all developers are aware of these and can refer to these when designing accessible media.
Importance of Known Accessibility Guidelines
After learning the participants initial awareness of accessibility guidelines, participants were asked to order the guidelines they had noted into order of importance. Participants were asked:
Which of these guidelines do you feel are the most important when designing accessible mobile games?
Opinions differed on the importance of accessibility guidelines relating to visual impairments. Of the 5 participants who noted guidelines relating to visual impairments, only 3 of these ordered these guidelines as being the most important when designing accessible mobile games. All participants stated these guidelines as being important, however 2 participants stated that other guidelines may be of higher importance when designing accessible mobile game content. An example of this is P5, ordering seizure guidance as the most important:
Seizures can cause bad health and is a health risk.
The importance of accessibility guidelines relating to CVD were also differed as P4 stated this as the highest importance, whilst P2 and P3 stated this as the lowest importance. P3 stated:
People who have colour blindness [CVD] can still see the game, so they are not missing out on as much as people with other disabilities.
A common view amongst interviewees was that seizure guidance was an important accessibility guideline and should be included throughout the design of mobile games. P1 ordered this as being the second most important guideline whilst P5 ordered this as being the most important guideline. P1 stated:
You don’t want to harm someone’s health by designing something harmful.
Of the two participants that noted accessibility guidelines relating to cognitive issues, both felt that these guidelines were not of the highest importance when designing accessible mobile games. Both P2 and P4 ordered these specific guidelines as being the second most important when designing these types of games.
Throughout the interview sessions, only one participant noted accessibility guidelines relating to hearing impairments in the current awareness task of the interviews. When ordering the guidelines in order of importance this participant ordered guidelines relating to hearing disabilities as being the most important.
Taken together, these results suggest the opinions each participant has of the importance of accessibility guidelines when designing accessible mobile games, allowing insight into how well the W3C accessibility guidelines support these types of games.
The findings from this section of the interviews highlighted the opinions from participants on the importance of the accessibility guidelines they had noted in the previous task. Opinions differed as to which of the noted guidelines were of highest importance when designing mobile gaming applications. A common theme was the importance of visual impairment accessibility guidelines. P1, P2, P4, P5 and P6 all stated that accessibility guidelines which aid visual impairments were of highest importance.
Similar to the results that we found, Clegg-Vinell et al. (2014) discuss users in their work frequently reported issues relating to contrast. A possible explanation for this common theme could be due to the awareness of current accessibility issues and guidelines. Whilst the majority of users felt that guidelines aiding visual impairments was of highest importance, it can be assumed that this particular issue, along with the guidelines to aid this issue is the most well-known. The most striking result to emerge from the data was that only one participant noted accessibility guidelines which aid hearing impairments. When ordering, this participant ordered these highest in importance, whilst only two of the participants mentioned the importance of seizure accessibility guidelines. It can therefore be assumed that these guidelines are less known that those relating to visual impairments, highlighting a need for other, less-known guidelines to become more apparent to developers when designing accessible mobile game content.
Importance of Current Accessibility Guidelines
The next part of the interviews asked participants to pick out what they felt to be the most important aspects of WCAG relating to mobile games. Participants were given a list of W3C accessibility guidelines for creating accessible mobile content.
The majority of participants stated that guidelines included in both the perceivable and operable sections were of highest importance when designing accessible mobile games. A common view amongst interviewees was the importance of button size and layout within these types of games. Some felt that accessible buttons were of high importance, while others considered that touch target size were also of high importance. P1 and P6 stated that easily accessible buttons were an important guideline with P1 stating:
Some people struggle to reach certain buttons, so buttons should be suitable to everyone.
The importance of accessible buttons was echoed by P4 who stated that touch target size was of high importance:
People with disabilities should be able to touch buttons with ease.
Another recurrent theme in the interviews was the importance of gesture accessibility, including touchscreen gestures and device manipulation gestures. P3, P4 and P6 all stated that these guidelines were of high importance. P4 stated that there should be alternatives for device manipulation gestures:
Devices that are in fixed positions are unable to be tilted so having other features are useful for example buttons to simulate tilting.
This view was echoed by P3 who stated:
Users who can’t do these gestures should be provided with alternatives.
Surprisingly, only a minority of the respondents stated that accessibility guidelines relating to visual impairments were of high importance. P2 and P5 stated that the zoom/magnification guideline was of high importance as it can aid users with low vision by making the text bigger onscreen.
Participants indicated that guidelines included in the perceivable and operable sections of the W3C accessibility guidelines were of highest importance when designing accessible mobile games. Button size and layout was a recurring theme amongst participants. Similarly, the importance of gesture accessibility was a popular response from participants. Each of these accessibility guidelines are put in place to mainly aid those who have motor impairments. The importance of creating accessible web content for these types of users is echoed by Malu and Findlater (2015), creating a head-mounted display for users with upper body motor impairments. Similarly, Hornof (2009) states how to design for children with motor impairments, expressing the difficulty of designing for these types of disabilities.
One interesting finding was that only two of the participants interviewed mentioned accessibility guidelines relating to visual impairments despite this category being very prominent during the first part of the study. These findings may help to understand which of the current accessibility guidelines should be improved on for future developments. From the data collected in this section of the interviews, it can be assumed that participants feel there should be more development around accessibility guidelines which aid motor impairments and should be more frequently integrated into mobile gaming applications.
Future Accessibility Guidelines Recommendations
Participants were then asked to discuss recommendations for accessibility guidelines, stating any guidelines they feel had been missed out or should be improved on for the future. The majority of those who responded to this felt that there should be more consideration for CVD throughout the W3C accessibility guidelines. P1, P2 and P3 all stated that colour schemes should be considered and should have an option to be made changeable to aid users who have CVD. P1 stated that colour should be considered for both CVD as well as autism, possibly referring to high levels of CVD present within individuals with autism spectrum disorders (Zachi et al. 2017).
Another recurring theme from the responses for this question was the readability aspect for people with visual impairments and/or dyslexia. P1 stated that there should be an option integrated to read out rules and notifications to users, whilst P2 stated that the text to speech translation should be integrated into more games:
Text to speech translation would be helpful. I mean some games do read things out but some don’t. Text being read out would be helpful to people with dyslexia.
One interviewee reported that seizure guidance should be improved on when designing mobile games. P5 commented:
More games should make sure there are no flashing images for people with epilepsy.
Surprisingly, only one participant mentioned an accessibility guideline from the understandable section of the W3C accessibility guidelines. P4 said:
Not many games incorporate orientation changes. Some people can only hold phone in one way.
These results suggest that the majority of participants agreed that there should be accessibility guidelines added or improved on to allow for more accessible mobile game applications.
The responses gathered from this section of the interviews followed two recurring themes. The majority of participants interviewed stated that the accessibility guidelines have more focus on CVD aids as well as seizure guidance to aid those with epilepsy. These findings suggest that there are not enough accessibility guidelines relating to each of these disabilities. This view is supported by P6, whilst in their interview session they stated:
I would probably never of even considered these to be a big deal until we had a look through the extensions on google chrome.
From this it can be assumed that aids for these types of disabilities can be added as extensions on web browsers, however there is a lack of accessibility for these integrated in mobile gaming applications.
Overall Support for Mobile Games
In the final part of the interview, participants were asked how well current W3C accessibility guidelines support the development of mobile games.
A recurrent theme in the interviews was a sense amongst interviewees that the current W3C accessibility guidelines exceptionally support mobile games. P1, P2, P3, P4 and P6 were all in agreement that the W3C accessibility guidelines support mobile game development as much as possible. P1 commented that the only thing that seemed to be missing was seizure guidance, whilst P3 commented that there should be some more incorporation of CVD aids. P2 commented on the fact that a lot of games incorporate these guidelines, whilst some others do not. In agreement with this, P4 stated:
A lot of the operable guidelines are already incorporated in most of the games. When I read them, images come to my mind of games I have played that incorporate them.
One interviewee argued that these W3C accessibility guidelines do not support the development of mobile games, but this focused more on overall layout and understanding of the guidelines themselves. P5 stated:
The W3C accessibility guidelines are hard to find when searching for them. It’s like an encyclopaedia with no index.
The overall response to this section of the interview is rather encouraging, as the majority of participants indicated that the current W3C accessibility guidelines supported mobile games exceptionally well, gaining the overall impression that these guidelines support these types of games as much as possible.
One participant stated that some games incorporate these accessibility guidelines whilst others do not. This view is supported by Jaramillo-Alcazar and Lujan-Mora (2017) who state that accessibility for users with visual impairments should be considered more by mobile games developers.
However, one of the participants disagreed with this and stated that the current W3C accessibility guidelines did not support the development of mobile gaming applications. The findings from this suggest that overall, the W3C accessibility guidelines support the development of mobile games relatively well, whilst more games should focus on incorporating these guidelines to improve the overall accessibility of mobile game content.