IBM is to offer a tool to test mobile applications for usability by people with disabilities, including visual and auditory impairment. The Mobile Accessibility Checker reviews programs written both for Android and Apple devices. IBM is yet to annouce pricign for the testing tool, however.

More than 60 percent of the world's population now uses mobile devices, IBM has estimated. Making a mobile app accessible for everyone not only ensures the largest possible user base, but also strengthens the overall design of the product.

IBM CEO Ginni Rommetty in full flow. Iamge: IBM

The tool checks, for instance, that the app can be navigated through using only voice commands, which would aid the blind. It can check that the color of the text is sufficiently different from the background. It can check to see if the font size, command buttons and spacing between elements are large enough for those with visual impairments.

The checker, developed by IBM Research, ensures that the mobile app complies with government regulations and accessibility standards overall. It can provide corrections to common problems, and gives the developer with an overview of the work that needs to be done.

To further aid accessibility development, IBM is collaborating with accessibility tool vendor SSB Bart Group, to build a platform for managing accessibility features on mobile platforms.

In addition to the resources offered by IBM, developers can use the documentation and standards offered by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to make their apps available to the broadest possible user base.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is [email protected]

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