Leading the way in digital inclusion: Top apps for accessibility features in 2024

4 June 2024

In our digital age, apps have become integral to our daily lives; facilitating everything from communication and shopping to education and work - it’s all at the tips of our fingers. But, in a world that places so much importance on technology, which brands are paving the way for digital inclusion, and which are falling behind?

For an overview of the current state of app accessibility, the tech experts at Warbox have evaluated the accessibility features currently available to users of the top apps across popular categories in the UK including social media, dating, finance and food and drink.

To get an average score for each category, we first looked at the apps individually, rating them based on whether they had accessibility features such as text size adjustment, high contrast mode, screen reader compatibility, alt text, subtitles and keyboard navigation.

The findings revealed that apps within the social networking, shopping and entertainment category generally had the most accessibility features, with travel & navigation, health & fitness and dating apps coming last, generally having much less support for those with accessibility needs.

The best apps for inclusive design

Coming out on top with an average accessibility score of 6.8 was the social networking category, closely followed by shopping apps with an average score of 6.5.

It’s that there are currently 56.2 million social media users in the UK and apps like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok are some of the most popular across all categories. As such, social media companies are often in the public eye and can face scrutiny if they are not demonstrating inclusivity.

Embracing accessibility can be mutually beneficial for app developers - especially if the app in question has a subscription model or requires users to make repeat purchases, much like many of the apps in these categories.

The ability to embrace technological convenience is not straightforward for everyone and adopting inclusive design in apps is paramount in ensuring that digital tools are accessible for a wide range of users. With many people now choosing to shop online, it’s vital that shopping apps make their services accessible, or face missing out on sales.

Out of the apps analysed, the shopping category had the largest number of apps that had the option for users to implement keyboard navigation, a feature which allows a user to jump from one interactive element to another using the keyboard. Having this feature is vital in allowing a smooth shopping experience from browsing to checking out. Having this consistency when shopping online is especially important for users with cognitive impairments who benefit from a stable and repeatable user experience.

The apps that still have work to do

Ofcom's 2023 Online Nation report showed more than one in 10 UK adults use online dating services including apps, however, with an average score of just 3.1, the dating app category came out as the least accessible out of all those analysed.

The results are surprising due to the prominence and popularity of dating apps like Tinder, Hinge and Bumble, which are now the go-to method for meeting new people, especially for those between ages 25-34.

Accessibility features in dating apps are crucial because they ensure inclusivity and equal opportunities for disabled or impaired users to participate in online dating. The features can empower users by providing tools to help interaction such as text to speech and keyboard navigation and help foster autonomy and confidence.

The research shows that many of the most popular dating platforms lack basic adjustments like text resizing and voice control, which could present challenges for users with visual, auditory, and motor impairments. This disparity highlights the urgent need for developers to prioritise accessibility, ensuring a more inclusive digital environment for all users.

However, many dating apps now offer the option to send voice notes and communicate via voice call or video call, which could be beneficial for those who are less able to send messages with the standard keyboard within the app.

Alt text

Across the board, we found that one feature that is underused, although it is relatively easy to implement was alt text - a line of text that describes an image. Alt text can help visually impaired users understand an image through the use of screen readers, which read the alt text aloud.

Whilst many apps are geared up for use with screen readers, not having alt text in place means that those relying on a screen reader would not be able to use the feature. It’s important that developers understand how crucial it is for users with visual impairments who rely on screen readers to be able to properly use apps.

Mark Fensom, director at Warbox, comments on the findings: “It’s crucial for brands to ensure that their apps are accessible for everyone and the first step is truly understanding the broad scope of accessibility needs; whether it’s visual, auditory, motor or cognitive, and how designs can be adapted to meet the needs of these users.

“As a brand communications agency, we understand the importance of wanting to get the right look and feel for your app, that truly conveys your brand and purpose and it’s tempting to overlook accessibility requirements. To cater to those with accessibility needs effectively, developers should integrate accessible design principles from the get-go, ensuring that it is not merely an afterthought but a core component of the app's design and functionality.”

With the smartphone user base expected to reach a new peak in 2029, with a projected 62.53 million people using phones with app capabilities - will developers be able to close the digital inclusivity gap before then?

*Data correct as of May 2024


Tech experts at Warbox analysed the top 10 apps (according to similarweb) across ten categories to see if they implemented accessibility features, they then worked out an average score for each category. The features analysed were: text size adjustment; high contrast mode; alt text; assistive technology compatibility (e.g. screen readers); captions; text to speech; intuitive typing; voice commands and keyboard navigation.

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