Why even special Solutions should be accessible to everyone
The question has been discussed for as long as accessibility has been discussed. Do special and isolated solutions actually have to be accessible? We actually thought that this question had been clarified by now, but it pops up again in the course of the mobile web and especially apps and is even aggravated, why I will explain in the course of the article.
What are special solutions?
Special solutions are projects that are originally aimed at special target groups. There are some examples at Simply for everyone. I would call isolated solutions special versions of applications or websites for special target groups. With a few exceptions, they are undesirable. I'm imagining the text version of a Facebook app for the blind right now, that's nonsense of course, but you never know what persons will come up with.
However, the answer is clear, even special solutions should be accessible. There are several reasons for that. The most important reason is that a disability rarely comes alone. For example, a mental disability and a physical disability, such as restricted vision or mobility, very often go hand in hand.
The second argument is a little more complicated. I still hear the argument that some shops wouldn't make their websites accessible because they don't have any blind customers anyway. I have to say that's the dumbest thing anyone can say. On the one hand, an online shop naturally doesn't know - and it's none of its business either - whether its customers are blind, have mobility problems or something else. On the other hand, of course, blind persons cannot shop from him if his shop is not accessible.
The same argument, however, is heard in a modified form from the providers of special solutions. Our apps are only aimed at wheelchair users, autistic or deaf persons, unfortunately we cannot take care of the others. Strictly speaking, this is the same statement as the shop owners put it: "We don't sell anything for the blind, so we don't have to be accessible".
The third argument is of course the effort, which is the least important thing for us, but the most important thing for the developers: it is too expensive to make the part accessible to everyone. Strictly speaking, that's true, because there are hardly any accessible solutions that work for everyone. There is very little content in sign language or plain language, and even if there is, there will always be someone who can't handle it. At the same time, the argument is put forward, because the first thing is to reach the largest possible group of disabled persons, and that can be achieved with relatively little effort. At least if accessibility is already considered conceptually. If you graft it on afterwards, it will of course be much more expensive. Just as everything else becomes more expensive if you only install it afterwards.
The second dumbest argument is a modification of the first one put forward here: Disabled persons don't use our application. The blind don't watch movies, the deaf don't listen to music, wheelchair users don't go dancing... Of course, and persons who don't have teeth don't eat either. This is really an advanced argument, because whoever says something like that has obviously not dealt with it and should perhaps talk about things that he understands something about.
Special solutions through the back door are not special solutions in the true sense. For example, most social media applications on the web such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are not considered accessible. The apps that should come from the users themselves, on the other hand, should be quite usable. The providers seem to think that if their apps are accessible, the web applications don't have to be or something. There are certainly an awful lot of disabled users who use the stuff on the go, but the argument doesn't really convince me.
Apps cannot be customized
With websites and most documents, the blind have the ability to use certain strategies to make them accessible when they are actually inaccessible. It's complicated, annoying and redundant but doable. This is much more difficult with apps. For example, you can label unnamed graphics or controls afterwards, but that often disappears after an update. You can use the trial and error principle, which usually has no serious consequences, but sometimes it does. As a last resort, you can see if there is a accessible alternative, but often enough there isn't. The whole thing is all the more regrettable because the corresponding devices offer even more options for accessible operation than websites on the desktop computer.
We should therefore not allow the lack of accessibility of special solutions to become the norm again. This also applies when such arguments come from disabled persons themselves, who should actually know better.
In the end, the app developer doesn't even know how persons will use his app. As long as they don't do anything illegal, he doesn't care. Practice shows, however, that persons with disabilities can be very creative when it comes to using technology to make their lives easier. If I'm hoarse I could use one of those AAC communication apps to do urgent things I need to speak for. An app to document medication consumption or certain body data can be good for completely different things.
In the end it would be fatal if the disabled persons's associations or interest groups were to soften the idea of universal design.