Dr. Neil's Notes
Software > Development
Imagine living in a world in which you are locked out of accessing information, knowledge and experiences that the majority of people in the world take for granted. You cannot access most of the news, social media feeds, sports games, or computer games. You might think I am asking you to imagine being a prisoner, locked out of the normal world. No. The position in which you find yourself, is one that is shared by many people because products (in this case digital products) are not designed for you. The majority of people are different, maybe they can see better than you, or they can hear notifications that you cannot, or colours that look identical to you, appear to be different to them.
We Are Responsible
This is the place we put many customers because we do not build our software products and experiences to be accessible to anyone other than the 'average' or 'normal' person. Products are excluding people from accessing the riches offered by the digital world because the developers have not put a priority on making sure those experiences are accessible to everyone. Yes, I fully understand this is often considered a business decision. However I would counter with the fact that you could consider quality and security as business decisions. If you are a craftsman, building the best product you can build would you allow the business to dictate that the quality does not matter ? I am sure there businesses operating that consider security a lower priority, until they get hacked and the entire business is held to ransom.
Someone involved in the creation of any product should be considering how to make that product the greatest possible version of that product. In the software development world building quality, and security into the product are given, however ensuring the product is accessible to as wide an audience as possible, is often overlooked. You might hear comments such as, well most of our users are normal and we do not get any value out of supporting people who have bad vision, poor motor skills, etc... This is simply lazy. Most modern operating systems and web browsers have features designed to help make sure applications, and web sites, are more accessible. As a software developer the first thing we should be doing is ensuring we do not break any of these accessability features. The guidelines are provided by Apple, Microsoft, Google.
In the last couple of decades every developer has been encouraged to think about building high quality products from the start, using techniques such as Test Driven Development. As all systems are now connected (in some way) to all other systems, security and protecting your product from misuse has become something developers have had to learn how to achieve.
I propose that now is the time to put accessibility alongside the quality and security of all products. It should be a given that digital products are as inclusive as possible and do not exclude a large portion of the audience from getting advantage from your creation.
Have a look at the following websites to understand how the major software companies are supporting accessibility in the environment you are building your product.
Apple: Accessibility for Developers
Google: Accessibility For Developers
Microsoft: Accessibility in Windows 10
Created: November 10, 2020 10:22:05