The current state of accessibility within physical activity self-management apps: A review and content analysis


Apps designed to promote self-management lead to an increase in physical activity (PA) among adults with musculoskeletal and neurological conditions. However, apps are not generally designed to meet the needs of this user group, causing accessibility and inclusion limitations (Olsen, 2019). Although Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG2.0) and previous literature provide accessibility benchmarks, the extent to which the most popular and current PA apps incorporate these criteria remains unclear. This study aims to investigate the current landscape of apps that promote PA and their inclusion of accessibility criteria. For this review, the top 50 PA apps from the Apple App Store were screened and included. The selected apps were scored by two independent coders (xx percent agreement) using a framework derived from the WCAG2.0 guidelines and relevant literature identifying techniques and functionalities that monitor or encourage PA in a mobile app format. Analyses are preliminary and ongoing. Initial descriptive analyses indicate most (80%) of app fail to meet the at least half of the WCAG2.0 criteria of "perceivable" and "understandable", indicating that app font size, orientation, and instructions do not address accessibility needs. The majority of apps (35%) lack at least a third of recommend app features to optimize social connectivity, indicating that current apps do not make use of valued social features such as sharing achievements and sending messages between users. Developers must pay greater attention to accessibility guidelines and ensure that all criteria are addressed to increase accessibility for users with a disability.