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If you make a piece of software, and people are required to use that piece of software in order to, say, pay for their housing or groceries or pay back a loan, you are on the hook to make sure that software works for _every single person_ who needs to use it.

All of them.

Every screen reader user. Every person with muscle issues who can't use a mouse. Everyone who doesn't speak English. Everyone with three first names, or no last name. Everyone who is Irish or Jewish and has a ' in their name. Everyone with slow internet.

EVERY person.

"Oh we don't have the resources to do that!" Great. Then you don't have the resources to make and sell that kind of software. Pack up and go home.

@✨Nora Tindall So much this! And also it has to work on every system/OS/web browser that you can think of.

@tindall We really should have laws that enforce this. And we do to some extent in certain jurisdictions but definitely not enough. And it must cover interoperability… I mean, heck, there are certain things you can only do today if you have a device running a Google or Apple OS.

@Aral Balkan @✨Nora Tindall Exactly! My grandma of 93 can no longer take the bus because they require a proprietary "app" to pay for the ride. And in Norway accepting cash is actually mandatory by law, but a law that's sadly not enforced.

@harald @aral @tindall
That is actually quite bad...
I have not yet encountered such things here, but I guess it will come one day... :(

@harald
My 89 year old Granny with visual impairment was told to report problems with her boiler "via the app" as they don't run a staffed phone line with COVID. Sure, we helped her but the boiler keeps going wrong and they just reset it for it to go wrong again and she has to report via the app each time! She says she's getting used to the cold showers but it's not acceptable.
@aral @tindall

@Deadly Headshot

as they don't run a staffed phone line with COVID


Because routing telephone calls is not possible, right? sigh
Companies should be fined hard for behaving like this.

@aral @tindall the >99% marketshare of Dumbdroid and iTrash is probably both a cause and an effect of this

nobody bothers with developing alternative OSes because nobody uses those

nobody bothers with using alternative OSes because they have no apps

@k3vk4 @LunaDragofelis @aral @tindall uhhh IIRC Windows Phone never had an official YouTube app because Google flat out refused to make one in order to make it harder for Windows Phone to compete with Android.
And when MSFT created YouTube app themselves, Google blocked it from accessing YouTube servers: windowscentral.com/microsoft-u
This is not a lack of adoption, and not a lack of interest for key app developers; this is Google abusing their monopoly, using control over their popular web services in order to combat any threat to their OS.
(IIRC Google also engaged in anti-competitive behavior to get Edge rendering engine killed, by constantly updating youtube and google docs websites in a way that would make them terribly slow in Edge, on purpose).
There were unofficial youtube apps though.

Also I don't remember how it was in Windows Phone days, but you absolutely can sideload unsigned apps on Windows 10 Mobile just by enabling this setting in phone's developer options, no contract needed, and IIRC no PC needed even for unsigned apps (and you can definitely sideload signed apps without PC)

@aral @tindall There will be one enforcing accessibility in Europe in 2025 (or later). Here’s what I’ve compiled at work:

The law directive (eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-conten).

- Effective starting 28/6/2025 at best.

- There’s an e-commerce category.

- “The obligations of this Directive should apply equally to economic operators from the public and private sectors.”

- The directive is pretty clear on the general principles/requirements regarding UI accessibility (Annexe I, section I.2)

1/x

@aral @tindall

2/2

- Extra requirements for categories listed in deque.com/blog/2021-mobile-acc (Annexe I, Section IV), including e-commerce (point (g)): basically everything related to payment, auth & security must be “perceivable, operable, understandable and robust”.

- The directive is sort of saying “let’s not be too hard on small companies (SMEs, defined in chapter 1, article 3.25), let’s consider the existence of disproportionate economic burden (e.g. small ets. who can’t afford compliance)“.

@aral @tindall Even that isn't enough sometimes, a few things refuse to run even on Googledroid if you lack google play services or have rooted the device

And have fun if you don't want a smartphone, or use a Linux one, because the government simply doesn't care, and wants you to submit to the capitalist hellscape that is the Apple/Google duopoly

@SigmaOne @tindall @aral IMO people need a #rightToBeOffline, which would solve a lot of these problems at a higher level. After people got the right to be online, the backlash is suppliers assume everyone is online & then they make further assumptions about software. #Email is broken so I’ve gone back to sending paper letters via post.

@aral @tindall Other than wait for laws to catch up, what can we do? Is there a database somewhere that tracks incidents, where we can submit records of situations where something essential is being denied to ppl as a consequence of incompetent tech development?

@tindall @aral E.g. affordable food is essential IMO, & some grocery stores now give exclusive discounts only to those who run their exclusively Google-distributed phone app. I’d like to submit data to some crowdsourced database that shames the grocery store.

@aral @tindall Guess that's a double edge sword. Getting more ppl included also means feeding more data to their data collection operation.

To prevent this, it seems that AMGAF sell their services to governments, with the recommendation that interoperability is achieved best using _only_ their software.

@tindall
What do you mean sell? Even if you just have enough for housing and food, the software shouldn't be another tax on top of that.

@wmd presumably they sell it to the landlord or bank.

@tindall
Ah yes, those two (problematic) institutions do have a responsibility there though. While people are forced to use those, they need to be accessible to all (they're bot ofcourse, no such thing as a free bank account)

@tindall @wmd i almost said "or government" in reply to this but pretty much every time i've seen a govt agency contract out it's significantly worse than whatever they had previously been doing in-house

@tindall
I'd say the onus is on the people *requiring* others to use the software, rather than directly on the software developers. It's the requirers who ought to ensure there are developers who have the resources and incentive to make it work for everyone.

@TMakarios agreed, but the bottleneck of resources is usually between the business selling the software and the devs they pay to make it; the business is the one not prioritizing features, not the customers.

@TMakarios @tindall So suppose a bank shuts down their web portal & they make acct access exclusively available via Google/Apple app, & even over the counter service is cut so most operations can only be done on the app. (this actually happened) The bank would say “we're not requiring you to run this s/w because we're not requiring you to bank with us”.

@tindall @TMakarios Then the gov says “you must have a bank acct /somewhere/” (this is common in Europe where it has become impossible to function without a bank acct). Which bank is it that must accommodate? The onus gets lost in that case.

@koherecoWatchdog
I would say the onus is on the government. It shouldn't be requiring everyone to have an account if some people can't use those accounts.
@tindall

@TMakarios @tindall Some people can’t use accounts at /some/ banks. So bank A either refuses to serve a customer or makes account access unreachable to that customer. The gov says “fine, use bank B then”. If there are ~6 or so banks & ~4-5 of them are unusable, there may be a working option that the gov can point to but the customer isn’t getting the benefit of a competitive market.

@tindall @TMakarios If the onus is on all 6 banks to be accessible, then consumers have 6 banks to choose from. And for some reason, 6 is a magic number in economics. An econ professor once told me that fewer than six is not enough competitors to create a market that’s favorable to the consumer.

@TMakarios @tindall I agree that those pushing the requirement to use a discriminatory tool should have a big portion of the responsibility, but if accountability stops there it's still a problem. The banking market has shrunk for those unable or unwilling to use closed-source smartphone software from Google or Apple (just as it might in cases of s/w w/bad accessibility), leaving a few bad choices.

@tindall @TMakarios The other issue is: what does it mean to “require” something? Belgium, France & Spain have outlawed cash transaction above thresholds of €3k or 1k, but they have not mandated that you must have a bank acct. There are laws stating that legal tender must be accepted for payment but this is unenforced. Basic essential services like utility companies are refusing cash.

@koherecoWatchdog
Yeah, villages.io looks similar, but more centralized and less private than circulex is intended to be.
@tindall

@tindall I'm not saying you're wrong, but this sounds like only large corporations should be allowed to make software?

@Gerrit Niezen @✨Nora Tindall Or that software is made to be interoperable, based on standards. This way software for a given purpose can be made by anyone. Not all implementaetions need to cover every need, but people and organizations are free to choose the implementations that cover their needs.

Open standards and Free Software are the tools for this to work.

@gendor no, it means that people shouldn't be required to use proprietary software to access vital things. There always needs to be a cash, phone, and/or in-person way to handle necessary life stuff.

@tindall @gendor Ah, so that's the "and people are required to use that piece of software" condition.

So software can be built and deployed in an incremental fashion, but it's the people pushing it on other people, the people who ultimately make the decisions, who need to make sure nobody is left behind.
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