Thread Subject: The accessibility value chain and closed,self-contained products
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We haven't had any discussion leading up to our first conference call. Just
to get things started, here are some thoughts:
Introduction to the Accessibility Value Chain Concept
The "value chain" is an established business concept that says that a
company does not create all the value in its products independent of other
actors. Component suppliers add value, as do retailers, and (especially
nowadays) end users. Companies are wise to pay attention to input from
these other contributors.
The *accessibility* value chain concept focuses more narrowly: how is
accessibility promoted or diminished by all the links? A link in this value
chain may be an AT product: a TTY adds accessibility value to the chain of
telecom products and services. A screen enlarger adds value to the chain of
desktop hardware and software.
The rationale for the "closed, self-contained" category is that, unlike
desktop computers, there are certain products that can neither attach to AT
devices nor allow modifications to their software so that they are more
accessible. (This category was never limited to ATMs, but included
peripherals like printers, and other products like cell phones.)
Essentially, they have *broken* accessibility value chains.
1. The number of closed, self-contained products is shrinking. More and
more products are designed to be connected to other products, or modified
via software. Transaction machines can now be controlled by wireless
phones, and wireless devices themselves support software customizations for
many purposes. So *theoretically* there is a diminishing need for this
2. However, existing AT products, hardware or software, may not be
compatible with all products previously assigned to this category. Screen
readers developed for desktop computers cannot be used on cell phones; even
screen readers designed for use on cell phones cannot be universally
installed in any cell phone. This creates uncertainty for the three key
stakeholders: AT companies, mainstream companies, and end users.
3. The technological changes that favor open products have reached a point
that permits us to remove this category entirely. It would be replaced by
provisions requiring the purchase of fully accessible products, or those for
which compatible AT exists. This would reduce stakeholder uncertainty.
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