Specific needs means users who need some form of assistance to use ICT. They might be partially sighted or blind for example. Other key specific needs might include hearing loss or some form of motor (or movement) disability. All of these needs can make some ICT devices or applications difficult, or impossible, to use to their full potential - a YouTube video, for example, may not be effective without subtitles for a hearing impaired user, whilst a visually impaired user may find it difficult to use the keys on a phone keypad to send an SMS.
In order to use ICT more effectively it sometimes needs to be adapted to meet a users needs.
There are a range of ways this can happen - sometimes content can be adapted, for example by adding subtitles - whilst at other times specific software or hardware needs to be used. Examples include screen reader software for visually impaired users or adapted pointing devices to replace a mouse for users with motor disabilities.
It's important to find out a bit more about this sort of stuff, so here are some quite useful places to start looking, maybe...
- How disabled users access the Internet - Webcredible has a pretty useful summary of some internet related stuff
- Screenreaders at See The Difference - a very short summary
- Smartphone cameras bring independence to blind people - a recent article from the BBC
- The RNIB has some helpful guidance on using film, TV and radio, with examples of adaptive technology
- The BBC website has an accessibility guide which might be both useful and interesting