Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The relation between accessibility features in products and services, and the lack of software applications for less-popular operating systems

It might seem at first that there's no connection, but there is. When we ask private corporations to wholeheartedly put accessibility features into their products and services, we're asking them to do things which aren't profitable for them. These companies publicly emphasize their "deep commitment" to making their offerings accessible to all, but privately it's an unnecessary cost for them and they grumble about it. Why? Because the number of users with such needs is low-enough to not make the expenses profitable.

Think about desktop and mobile operating systems. Platforms such as Windows 10 Mobile, BlackBerry 10, Linux, and others have a low market share. So very few companies release their applications for these OSes [even though all three of these, and many others, are excellent operating systems]. There's an analogy here - we're asking the same companies which don't support excellent operating systems [because the number of users is low] to make their products/services usable by those with disabilities [here too the number of users is low per product/service, even if not on an aggregate basis]. The difference here is that supporting the disabled makes for good PR [and there might even be laws requiring you to make your products accessible], but there are no laws and no PR losses if you don't support, say, Symbian. That's why we see the difference in how companies behave in these two otherwise analogous cases.

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