I am very much interested in spreading information on accessibility. For me social media is a bridge to share the information to the widest possible. As part of exploring accessible chat applications I have tried using many apps. Gtalk, vtok, face book, Skype to name a few.
If one app supports instant messaging it will not support calling. If some other app supports calling it will not support instant messaging. Finally the app that took my attention is â€œSkypeâ€. The Skype on iPhone app is the best accessible chat app I have come across till date. Let me put down the pointers that caught my attention.
Accessibility Features of Skype on I Phone
- A navigation bar header for every screen. The second element on every screen that describes what the page contains. Voiceover announces it as a header.
- A back button with proper label. The label clearly describes where the button takes navigating one screen back at a time.
- Every element through-out the app is clearly labeled.
- The traits such as image, button, tab etc are clearly indicated in most of the cases.
- The tabs People, Recent, Call phones, profile are clearly indicated with special indication of the currently selected tab.
- The elements of the app are consistent across the screens.
- The IM option is very much accessible including labels for emoticons.
However the following accessibility features can be implemented to make the app more accessible and user friendly.
Features to improve
- Traits are not provided for many elements. Elements especially which take the user to the next screen such as All contacts, online contacts, Skype contacts, Saved phone numbers , recently contacted etc in the list screen.
- Hints are not provided for any element. Though hints are not required in most of the cases as the labels are clear enough, it is better to have hints. For example, options such as action buttons in contact screen opens a popup. A hint can describe a little about the action.
- When any tab is selected from the people, recent, call phones, Profile the screen is changed. The user have to manually go back to the top of the screen to read the new screen. If the user focus can be automatically taken to the navigation bar header it will be helpful for voiceover users.
These are just my observations on user experience. Any feedback and suggestions are welcome.