Recall that the definition of Accessibility from the Oxford Dictionary is threefold:
1.1 The quality of being easy to obtain or use.
1.2 The quality of being easily understood or appreciated.
1.3 The quality of being easily reached, entered, or used by people who have a disability.
Using what you learned in your reading about the benefits of open source software and of proprietary software, consider with your group the pros and cons of open source software with regard to each of the sub-definitions of accessibility. Be prepared to discuss your answers with the class.
Is open source software easy to obtain and use? In what ways is it easy, and in what ways might it be hard?
Is open source software easily understood? What is required for software to be understandable? What do you know about open source software that might inform your answer to this?
Is open source software easy to access by people with disabilities? Be sure to think about all of the different disabilities that you discussed with your class.
Would any of these be more or less likely to be a problem with open-source vs. proprietary software? Why?
You have explored the pros and cons of open source and proprietary software. One of the ways to decide the best approach (proprietary or open source) for creating software to support accessibility would be to use the virtue ethics framework. Recall that this framework looks at which virtues are upheld with a given decision, and which are violated. Let us consider which of the virtues might be violated by the proprietary approach and by the open source approach.
Put a P by the virtues (listed below) violated by a purely proprietary approach, and an O by virtues that might be violated by the purely open source approach.
You probably discovered that both approaches violate one or more virtues. This is not straightforward!
Provide for others
Let’s turn to another framework. The utilitarian framework. Utilitarianism suggests that the most ethical approach is the one that is the best for the most people.
Make a list below of the stakeholders involved in producing/using software with an eye for all kinds of accessibility (economic, physical, mental).
Next to the stakeholder, make a list of their needs. The list is started for you as an example, but there are other stakeholders and other needs.
|Stakeholder||Need or contribution|
(designers, developers, managers, maintenance etc.)
|Users with disabilities|
|Software distributors and system trainers|
- You probably noticed that neither the open source approach or the proprietary approach meet all of the needs of the stakeholders. Can you create another approach that would do a better job?