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The personal site of Jamie Knight, an autistic web developer, speaker and mountain biker who is never seen far from his plush sidekick Lion. View the Archive

Topics: Autism Development

Don't disable pinch to zoom

… As all the other options are nowhere near as usable:

1) iOS native zoom (eg zooming the whole screen) does not understand text structure. You cannot zoom into blocks of text automatically. The inability to zoom into text blocks renders the iOS screen zoom an almost unusable experience on the web.

2) One size does not fit all. Not everyone can read 12px text. Rotating the phone to act as a zoom is easy, fast and effective.

Rarely things are absolute, I’m sure there are sensible edge cases, but keeping zoom enabled is a sensible default.

In the BBC mobile accessibility guidelines disabling platform accessibility features (such as pinch to zoom) is prohibited, we think this is a sensible starting position. If you disagree, please contact us, if you have tested this please share your results.

And that’s about it.

Published: 13 September 2013 | Categories: , Permalink

Go on, tell me I'm wrong.. ;)

  1. Kelci · Sep 13, 10:09 am ·

    I agree. I’ve just zoomed to read your page :-)

    Flickr mobile drives me insane. That’s the only site when you can’t zoom images with pinch gesture. Even linking to bare JPEG is better than their zoom-broken site!

  2. AlastairC · Sep 16, 04:20 pm ·

    I agree with the conclusion, but I find iOS’s zoom (and Chrome on Android) does take text structure into consideration. If you double-tap a central content column it generally zooms to fit the width of that.

    Of course, you shouldn’t disable it because that level of zoom might not be enough.

    In those situations I would like mobile zoom to change and to try and fit the text to the width of the viewport, but that’s another discussion.

  3. Jamie Knight (Author) · Sep 30, 03:18 pm ·

    Thanks for the Response AlastairC. In the article i am referring to the OS level zoom, not the browser zoom. In the browser, tapping a text column makes it fill the screen, at the OS level (three finger zoom and pan) it only zooms the whole screen and does not snap to text.

    I think this is what you mean in your second paragraph, if not let me know!

    Hope that clarifies the difference.,

    Jamie + Lion

  4. Marja Erwin · Jun 7, 03:08 pm ·

    Okay, you’re wrong.

    I have proprioceptive issues. I am not ever going to be able to use touchscreen devices unless I can disable complex gestures and accidental gestures. Unfortunately it is getting harder to avoid touchscreen devices.

  5. Nivi Morales · Oct 26, 02:51 pm ·

    Good post. I am visually impaired and rely heavily on zoom to navigate the web. So disabling it might not be best practice.

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