by David Redmond
I’m not going to pretend to be a big GAA fan. I couldn’t even rise the sliotar with my hurley in school, so there was certainly no chance of me playing for the county. There was a lad with the same name as me who played for Wexford at some point, but that’s about as close as I ever got to being a GAA star.
Even though I might be salty about my lack of sporting skills, I can’t deny the huge popularity GAA has right around Ireland and indeed the world.
This year, for the first time, those in Ireland will be watching some big games on a streaming service called GAAGO, after Sky Sports contract to show games ended. The GAAGO streaming service is a joint venture between RTÉ and the GAA. It’s a big change for sports fans, and it of course raises the question, how accessible is it?
In this article, we’ll take a look at the GAAGO app and see how accessible it is for those with sight loss.
The app layout is standard enough with four tabs on the bottom, and three buttons on the top right. While the tabs are accessible, the buttons are unlabelled.
Despite the unlabelled buttons you can make your way around, flicking will bring you to headings such as “upcoming” or “Live Now”, while flicking again brings you through the matches in that list. Double tapping a match does bring you to a labeled play button, so it is possible to watch games.
The events tab is very messy with VoiceOver due to an overwhelming number of useless screen elements. Something as simple as the kick-off time is announced as an “attachment PNG File”, which is unnecessary and confusing.
The home and catch-up pages are manageable, while the GAA TV tab appears to be blank.
It’s an experience that is usable but certainly isn’t the most enjoyable from an accessibility point of view. You’ll likely be able to watch a match, but you might be frustrated in the process.
The app doesn’t have a dark mode which would help some with low vision, so that would be an easy win. In fact, if we’re honest all the issues here could be fixed without many changes. Add dark mode, a few accessibility labels, and tidy up the events tab and this will help a lot.
This app is in my view a textbook example of an app that could have been fine with a bit of access testing. Instead, as one of my colleagues said, blind people would be as well-off listening on the radio than dealing with the subpar experience from GAAGO.
I’ve often heard television ads promoting the GAA with a simple tagline, “Where we all belong”. This is a great tagline, and to the GAA’s credit, they have seemed to do a lot to increase the accessibility of the sport to those with various backgrounds. This is fantastic to see, but they can go further. If the GAA want to be a place where we all belong, then they need to make their app more accessible to those with disabilities.
The app isn’t terrible in my view, but I know of highly experienced screen reader users working here at NCBI who found the app a struggle. By just fixing those unlabelled buttons and adding a dark mode, they could really do a lot to help disabled users of the app have a good experience and add weight to the GAA tagline “where we all belong”.