Accessibility often gets forgotten or overlooked in software development – with Ploppy Pairs I would like to create more awareness for that topic.
How it started
When I started with software development I had no clue about accessibility myself, one of my very first merge request as a junior developer was to remove the accessibility labels of views as everything worked without them and I had no clue what I was even removing there. Since I didn’t have any touch points with that topic in my life before, I guess I was also always a bit deterred from that area, until I had contact with other developers who made me aware of it.
All began with the One-To-One WWDC Accessibility Lab where Apple employees told me that with just even considering making my app accessible I am already way ahead of other developers and that the community is very open to beginners and try to help as much as they can. Afterwards I started to add VoiceOver support to my app and it was actually way easier than expected. Starting simple by adding accessibility labels to all views to optimising navigation in terms of grouping elements into containers so they can easily navigated through by using the VoiceOver rotor’s functionalities. For feedback I always made a post in the AppleVis forum, the go-to online resource for blind and low vision users of Apple products such as the Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. The community there is very welcoming and helpful, in the end even one of the community members offered me to make game music for my games which is now included in Ploppy Pairs. Lastly, I also included accessibility support to the Augmented Reality feature as well, and therefore, also in the visionOS version – making it one of the very first accessible games of this new platform.
If you have never done anything with accessibility don’t let that discourage you from digging into that area. Just give it a try and you will see it is not that hard as you might expect – it’s always easier to keep accessibility in mind right from the beginning than supporting it afterwards – still, it’s not impossible. Apple already does a lot of work for you out of the box – one of the very first steps you can take is to take care that no texts get cut off and are dynamically resizable. And don’t forget, when you make your app accessible you will also improve your overall user experience as well.
I know, that sometimes it seems like there is no time, there are other priorities or that accessibility support is simply just not possible in your app or game – it just shouldn’t be used as an easy excuse. If you have no time for it, at least think about if that next meeting or feature is really that necessary or if you maybe could start to work on your VoiceOver support instead. If it seems like your app just cannot be made accessible, give it a second thought and think a bit outside the box if you could adapt your core functionality in a way that it is suddenly accessible as well.
I can also relate to those points as also only one of my games is accessible and I do not want to sound too hypocritical. Ploppypop is highly physics based which is quite difficult to be accessible, still after a while I came up with the idea, there could be an extra mode where the Ploppies do not fall from top to bottom based on physics, but rather based on time where you can swipe through lanes where Ploppies go from top to bottom – then it could be played via VoiceOver as well. Where is Ploppy? is also quite difficult to be accessible as you have to find one specific Ploppy surrounded by hundreds of other ones – swiping through all of them does not really sound like a lot of fun. On a second thought though, I was thinking outside the box, that the gameplay could also depend on vibration and sounds instead of just your sight. The closer you get to the wanted Ploppy, a more intense sound and vibration will be played. In the end, none of those features were implemented what brings me to the second relatable point that there was just not enough time left.
I made the decision to rather focus on one game and make it fully accessible in all modes and features like SharePlay, Augmented Reality etc. instead of making each of the apps only a bit accessible. But as you might saw, the way of thinking changed for me, whenever I think about a new game idea or feature, I ask myself if and how it could be made accessible as well. And that’s would I like to achieve with Ploppy Pairs in others – making them aware of the topic and make them think how they could make their app, product or whatsoever accessible as well.
As mentioned in the beginning, I unfortunately saw hardly any accessibility support in any apps or software I worked on over the last years and I guess that’s an overall problem. With the upcoming European Accessibility Act in June 2025, many companies will have to adapt their products and make them accessible as well.
I would like to share my knowledge with others and help them making their products accessible – so let’s get in touch and have a talk how your app could be made better for everyone!