Accessibility Review: Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) iOS App

Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) iOS App

What does this app do? Allows you to freely stream described and captioned educational videos from the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP)
How do I get this app? This app is free to download from the App Store but requires that you have an account with the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP).
How do I get an account with the DCMP? Accounts are for “…students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, or deaf-blind,” and for “…teachers, parents, and other professionals…” who serve those students. Find out if you qualify by creating an account.

Accessibility Review: DCMP v 1.1.0 for iOS

The DCMP app (v 1.1.0) is not optimized for use with VoiceOver or other accessibility features relating to vision in iOS. Users who are blind or visually impaired may have a difficult time using this app.
For starters, the app allows users to choose appearance options. There are two themes in that users can choose between – “Default” and “High Contrast”. The default mode is what users will see upon initial start-up of the application – a blue background with white lettering. The High Contrast mode will change the background to black and keep the white lettering. Changing the theme will also change the background image on the home page of the app (see below).
Screen shot of DCMP app home page in default theme
DCMP app home page with default theme

Screen shot of DCMP app home page in high contrast theme
DCMP app home page in high contrast theme
The app will work with built-in iOS color enhancements. However, this changes the appearance of both the interface and the video.
DCMP works with the Bold Text and Button Shapes features. However, there are some issues with the larger text feature. When the Larger Accessibility Sizes feature is enabled, “apps that support dynamic type will adjust to your preferred reading size.” Users will notice when they initially set a preferred text size after enabling this feature, they will see a response in the DCMP app. Unfortunately, this change is short-lived as the font size will revert back to the unaltered size after closing the program or navigating in the interface.
When navigating the app in VoiceOver, the navigation menu (which is labeled the name of the Unicode character “trigram for heaven”) opens up a menu in the middle of the screen that is difficult to navigate with VoiceOver because opening this menu does not change the focus of the iDevice. To access this menu, a VoiceOver user would need drag their finger along the middle of the screen until they landed on one of the navigation controls. However, the menu box is translucent and users will easily select options from the page below as they drag their finger between buttons. As well, if users manage to select a button, they can move through the navigation buttons by single-finger swiping left and right. However, since the sections of the underlying page are still active, you can easily select these content units by accident.
Another issue is encountered in VoiceOver when video is playing. Users can one finger double tap to open the video controls. They can one finger swipe left and right to move between the back, track position, volume, 30 second rewind, pause, next track, and alternative track buttons. However, the video controls layers will timeout relatively quickly, even when moving through controls with VoiceOver. This makes it very difficult to use these controls in VoiceOver.
The biggest issue with the DCMP app for VoiceOver users is an error that occurs when playing videos. This error doesn’t happen every time you play a video, but I encountered it several times while testing out the app. In VoiceOver mode, the screen will go completely black. You’ll hear the audio from the video, but you will not see any video. No VoiceOver gestures will have any effect when this error happens. The only way to remedy this situation is to close the app and relaunch.

Final Conclusion

This app is not accessible for VoiceOver users. That being said, if a VoiceOver user was motivated enough by the fantastic content this app has to offer, they could get it to work with a series of workarounds (like restarting the app when they get the black screen and some tips to accessing the navigation menu).

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