Use of the AccessibilityService API

Google Play permits the use of the AccessibilityService API for a wide range of applications. However, only services that are designed to help disabled people to access their devices or otherwise overcome challenges stemming from their disabilities are eligible to declare that they are accessibility tools. This is done using the isAccessibilityTool attribute in the service’s metadata file.

Apps declaring isAccessibilityTool are exempt from the prominent disclosure and consent requirement described below. Additionally, all apps targeting Android 12 using AccessibilityService API will need to complete the Permission declaration form and receive approval from Google Play starting from 3 November 2021.

What apps can be an accessibility tool? 

Apps that are designed to support people with disabilities include:

  • Screen readers, which support people with visual impairments
  • Switch-based input systems which support people with motor impairments
  • Voice-based input systems which support people with motor impairments
  • Braille-based access systems which support people with both visual and hearing impairments

Tools supporting other users with disabilities, such as cognitive impairments or multiple disabilities, would also qualify.

The tools must support disabled people as their primary purpose. A general assistant that is voice-activated, for example, that targets a large user population but would help users with motor impairments in some situations would not qualify as an accessibility tool. Most developers of accessibility tools spend most of their user research understanding the complex challenges that people with a particular set of disabilities face when using their devices and tailor a solution to meet those challenges. It should be obvious when reading the Google Play Store description of an accessibility tool who those users are and how the app helps them meet the challenges that they face.

Other examples of apps that are not accessibility tools are antivirus software, automation tools, assistants, monitoring apps, cleaners, password managers and launchers.

Prominent disclosure and consent requirements

Apps not eligible for the IsAccessibilityTool attribute must meet the prominent disclosure and consent requirements described in Google Play’s user data policy. Those apps must include a prominent disclosure that:

  • Must be within the app itself and cannot only be in the app description or on a website;
  • Must be displayed in the normal usage of the app and not require the user to navigate through a menu or settings;
  • Must describe the data being accessed or collected through the AccessibilityService API;
  • Must explain how the data will be used and/or shared;
  • Must require affirmative user action for consent (for example, tap to accept, or tick a tick box);
  • Cannot only be placed in a privacy policy or Terms of Service; and 
  • Cannot be included with other disclosures pertaining to personal or sensitive data collection. This should be a separate disclosure indicating why the app requires the AccessibilityService API and any potential use cases.

Important: If you change how your app uses this API, you must submit the form again with updated and accurate information. Deceptive and non-declared uses of these APIs may result in a suspension of your app and/or termination of your developer account.

Accessibility services declaration

Starting on 3 November 2021, apps that target API level 31 and include an AccessibilityService will need to complete a new policy declaration in Play Console. We are not blocking use of this API, but we will require prominent disclosure of the API’s use for any app that is not an accessibility tool. Accessibility tools are apps whose primary purpose is to support users with disabilities.

Declaration for apps that are accessibility tools

If you have declared your app to be an accessibility tool by setting the isAccessibilityTool=true in your service’s metadata file, then you will need to tell us about how your app serves an accessibility need.

Here’s a preview of the declaration questions:

  1. Describe one core feature in your app that requires a permitted use of the AccessibilityServices API.
     
  2. Which types of disability does your app serve? Select all that apply.
    • Motor
    • Vision
    • Hearing
    • Cognitive or learning
    • Other
  3. Who are the target users of your app?
     
  4. To help us review your app, provide a link to a short video that shows your app being opened, the accessibility services being enabled and the accessibility services being used. If it isn't obvious from the user interface how accessibility services are being used in your app, provide a voice-over or captions to help explain.

Declaration for apps that are NOT accessibility tools

If you have not declared your app to be an accessibility tool but use the AccessibilityService API, i.e. you have not set isAccessibilityTool flag in your accessibility service’s metadata file, you will be required to complete an accessibility declaration in Play Console.

Here’s a preview of the declaration questions:

  1. Why does your app need to use the Accessibility Services API? Select all that apply.
    • App functionality
    • Analytics
    • Developer communications
    • Fraud prevention, security and compliance
    • Advertising or marketing
    • Personalisation
    • Account management
  2. Do you collect and/or share personal or sensitive data using the accessibility capabilities?
    • Yes
    • No

Note: Learn more about data collection and data sharing.

[If answered Yes to 2.] 

  1. What user data do you collect and/or share using the Accessibility Services API? Select all that apply.
    • Location
      • Approximate location
      • Precise location
    • Personal info
      • Name
      • Email address
      • Personal identifiers
      • Address
      • Phone number
      • Race and ethnicity
      • Political or religious beliefs
      • Sexual orientation or gender identity
      • Other personal info
    • Financial info
      • Credit card, debit card or bank account number
      • Purchase history
      • Credit info
      • Other financial info
    • Health and fitness
      • Health information
      • Fitness information
    • Messages
      • Emails
      • SMS or MMS messages
      • Other in-app messages
    • Photos or videos
      • Photos
      • Videos
    • Audio files
      • Voice or sound recordings
      • Music files
      • Other audio files
    • Files and docs
      • Files and docs
    • Calendar
      • Calendar events
    • Contacts
      • Contacts
    • App activity
      • Page views and taps in app
      • In-app search history
      • Installed apps
      • Other user-generated content
      • Other actions
    • Web browsing
      • Web browsing history
    • App info and performance
      • Crash logs
      • Diagnostics
      • Other app performance data
    • Device or other identifiers
      • Device or other identifiers
  2. To help us review your app, provide a link to a short video which shows the prominent disclosure shown to users in your app.

 

Guidance for the video showcasing your app’s prominent disclosure

The video that you provide as part of the declaration must include the following:

  1. The opening of your app on the device.
  2. The user flows to get to the prominent disclosure and consent screen for accessibility.
  3. The user flow when the user consents, including granting your app the accessibility permission.
  4. The user flow when the user does not consent, including the process when the user triggers the prominent disclosure and consent screen again.
  5. A core feature in your app that uses the accessibility capabilities. If it isn't obvious from the user interface how accessibility services are being used in your app, provide a voice-over or captions to help explain.

 

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