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Accessibility: A StuComm priority you won’t see anywhere else

Our goal at StuComm is to make all students’ lives easier. That’s why we have spent the past few months developing an accessibility feature for visually impaired students.

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Too often, because of their minority status, the requirements of handicapped students are ignored and they are forced to adapt to technology rather than having technology adapt to them. With 40,000 blind and over 300,000 visually impaired people in Holland alone those figures show it’s not a difference that should be ignored by companies.

As market leaders in student communication at StuComm we understand we have to take a different approach and challenge subpar standards. So, in June we sat down with a focus group of blind students to test and develop the functionality of a feature for the visually impaired.

A “barrier-free” StuCommApp

The Accessibility Foundation calls apps adapted for accessibility “barrier-free”. We wanted to adapt our StuCommApp for partially-sighted students to enable them to participate in the education system, be less dependent and find more connection on campus.

The aim of our focus group was to develop the most helpful ‘barrier-free’ StuCommApp, and with the help of these students of the University of Utrecht we achieved our goal together. Through a range of information sessions and development workshops which enabled instant feedback we investigated which functionalities were the most effective, ensuring the app seamlessly integrates with their daily needs. Our app now supports adaptive features so that every student on campus can now see their grades, lecture times and campus news, no matter their visual ability.

Focused Feedback

Our student group were key in delivering ideas that led to the best possible adaptation, resulting in a StuCommApp that supports size, color, font and scaling settings for the visually impaired, and an audio support for blind students. We streamlined the necessary information and tailored it to the different needs of blind and visually impaired students. For example, we discovered that an explanation of the company logo is irrelevant to blind students but that the partially-sighted wanted to be able to see it.

We learned that blind students navigate the app with left and right swipes but that the visually impaired use their phones a few centimeters from their face. We learned that audio descriptions require pauses so as not to overload the user with information. We also find out that partially-sighted students want to toggle their settings and that contrast is everything and that grey is a hindrance, so we got creative with black/white and black/yellow combinations.

Develop

Based on the results of the user survey, we have further refined the functionalities in the StuCommApp. The StuCommApp is now barrier-free in both English and Dutch. We have scheduled further developments in the coming period, initially for iOS with aims to develop the same features later for our Android users.

Want to know more about barrier-free apps for education?

Are you curious about what we can do for your organization in terms of accessibility? Contact Ronald Kouvelt for more information.