Make Your Skill Accessible to All 

Updated: December 1, 2023

Key takeaways

A skill can reach many customers who might have temporary, permanent, and situational disabilities. This article provides best practices you can follow to reduce friction in your skill for customers with different needs.

Need quick advice?

See Disability Categories.

In this article:


A skill can reach many customers who might have temporary, permanent, and situational disabilities (disabilities that are based on a specific set of circumstances such as a noisy surroundings or carrying a baby). Make sure that your skill is accessible to anyone who wants to use it.

Design to support multiple inputs to Alexa such as:

  • Voice (VUI)
  • Touch (Multimodal buttons, typing, etc)
  • External Inputs (bluetooth switches, keyboards, joysticks, etc)

Outputs from Alexa may include:

  • Voice (Alexa responds to a question)
  • Sound (Beeping to indicate a Drop In)
  • Visual (Alexa responses on screen or Captioning)
  • Haptic Feedback (Vibrations to indicate something)


Disability Categories


Visual impairment includes disabilities such as blindness, low vision, and color blindness. These customers may use screen readers which are software programs that allow blind or visually impaired customers to read the text that is displayed on the computer screen with a speech synthesizer or braille display. It can also include temporary and situational disabilities.


Hearing impairment includes disabilities such as slight hearing loss, being hard of hearing (HoH), and deafness. It can also include temporary and situational disabilities. For example, customers who are in noisy environments, such as when they are using Alexa devices in public areas.


Speech issues include such things as a non-native speaker who has accented speech to a customer who can’t speak at all. A customer might not know how to respond or not be able to respond by voice alone.


Cognitive impairment includes disabilities, such as learning disabilities, and difficulty understanding complex instruction or time-dependent actions. It can also include temporary and situational disabilities. For example, this could be customers who are distracted when they are driving a car or doing multiple tasks at the same time.

Learn more about cognitive overload.


Mobility impairment includes disabilities such as limited dexterity and strength, and difficulty performing complex gestures. It can also include temporary and situational disabilities. For example, customers who can’t interact with the device by touch, such as when they have dirty hands or are physically doing other tasks while using Alexa.

The following sections describe best practices you can follow to reduce friction in your skill for customers with different needs.


Navigation is how your customers will get around your skill. It’s important to ensure you accommodate for multiple navigation styles and forms of interaction by considering these points:

  • Make sure that all Alexa actions rely on voice-first input. Avoid creating an action that relies on customers interacting with a screen alone. Many customers have Alexa-enabled devices that don’t have a screen, or customers can have a screened device but limited ability to interact with touch. However, you can send customers to the Alexa app if you must communicate personal information that you don’t want Alexa to read aloud.
  • If a customer doesn't respond by voice, make sure you provide a visual action they can take. Instead of ending the session, consider asking the previous prompt in a different way.
  • Make sure to create visual analogs to all actions and options described by your skill. Use Buttons, Lists, and Speech Synchronization to help customers who might not be able to hear Alexa well or at all.
  • Allow the customer to control the navigation. Do not allow the page or screen to auto move to the next. Provide headers/headings for each page and section within a page.


  • Be consistent with the structure of your skill to avoid confusion
  • Include headers, headings, landmarks or other indicators on each page to inform the customer where they are when navigating between pages, this helps customers using a screenreader to be able to orient themselves and avoid confusion and frustration
  • Define the visual hierarchy and the focus order of how each element on screen is grouped, ordered or linked to improve the experience for customers using switch access or a screenreader
  • Allow for multiple methods of navigating through content

Learn more about designing Multimodal skills.


Touch Targets

  • Avoid hidden controls and interactions like swipe, long-press and hover states, or pair them with a visual affordance to ensure everyone can navigate and experience the content equally; these interactions are difficult for people with limited mobility and are often hidden for customers using assistive technologies like screen readers or switch access
  • Ensure the sizes of buttons and other UI controls as well as their tap targets are large enough (recommend 60x60px touch target minimum on multimodal devices) and labeled correctly for screen readers



Accessibility Text refers to everything that is read aloud for customers using a screenreader and can include visible and non-visible alternative text. Clear meaning, legibility, and proper grammar will help a wider variety of customers process your content, consider these points when adding text content in your skill:

  • Ensure contrast ratios are 4.5:1 for text 17px and under, at least 3:1 for bold text and 18px or larger, consider using a tool or plugin to check contrast on your designs
  • Text should be clear and literal, using simple words for everyone, include inline definitions or links to definitions of words that may be more difficult to understand
  • Be careful when using nonliteral words like idioms and specialized jargon, for example, the common American idiom “under the weather” when someone feels sick. Some customers have a difficult time understanding this content; this could apply to certain disabilities like autism as well as non-native language speakers.
  • Use the same tense throughout you experience when possible; past, present, future
  • Some customers may use a screenreader which can include visible and non-visible alternative text, for this reason, ensure text is written in the most clear and accurate way to best describe the experience and lead with the most important information; the goal is to translate a visual UI into a text-based UI. Learn more about how a screen reader interacts with APL experiences.



When creating visuals for your skill, it’s important to think about accessibility in use of colors, style of animations, and concept understanding. Consider these points when creating visuals for your skill:

  • Color and text of visuals must be at 4.5:1 contrast
  • Avoid adding screens or animations that flicker, flash, or blink, however, if you have a reason to draw customers' attention in this manner, make sure to set the flash frequency at no more than three flashes per second; doing so should help prevent triggering photosensitive seizures in customers
    • Note: You can safely use flashing-text insertion carets because they are too small to trigger seizures.
  • Make sure that all your customers understand your skill experience and visual aids. Don't use different terms for the same action or function
  • Use Alt Text (read aloud by screen readers used by visually impaired customers) to describe any images or meaningful graphical elements like icons and symbols, within an APL document, you can use the accessibilityLabel property. Try to describe with an informative, short phrase and limit to 125 characters. 



Skills in Alexa are driven by direct interactions with the customer, some customers with cognitive or speech disabilities may need a wider window of time to complete tasks. Here are some considerations to make when timing interactions in your skill:

  • Provide sufficient time to complete tasks. Many customers who are aging, those with a language barrier, a vision impairment or people with cognitive access needs may require more time to read or perform functions like speaking with Alexa.
  • Consider giving customers the ability to initiate turning off or closing a task vs automatic timeout, or offer the option of increasing timeout tenfold.

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