Key Reasons to Focus on Accessibility 

People with disabilities are in integral part of the UNH community 

People with disabilities play important roles across all aspects of the UNH campus. This includes but is not limited to:  

  • Students participating in classes, events, and activities both in-person and virtually.  
  • Athletes competing in national and international competitions.  
  • Teaching assistants supporting faculty instruction. 
  • Research assistants supporting labs and experiments.   
  • Faculty teaching classes and conducting essential research. 
  • Staff supporting students, faculty, and other staff members.  
  • Administrators and leaders setting direction and goals for the university.  
  • Visitors attending events and exploring our campuses. 

Simply put, disability impacts all aspects of who we are and what we do, so we need to ensure that these vital community members have access. 

Accessibility benefits everyone  

While accessibility is essential for some, it ultimately benefits all people. When supports are built in from the start, then all people can utilize the supports when they need them. Two examples are captions and curb cuts. (Source)

  • UNH student smiles with backpack

    Captions – Captions were designed to ensure that people with hearing differences can access videos. However, captions are often used by people without hearing differences. Captions are commonly used in gyms and bars, when people are watching videos in public, and many people simply prefer to have them on. These supports are necessary for people with hearing differences to access the content, but many others benefit when the feature is built in from the start.  

  • Curb Cuts – Another example is curb cuts. Curb cuts are small ramps built into curbs that allow people who use mobility devices/aids to independently navigate streets and sidewalks. Though designed with people with disabilities in mind, curb cuts are used by a wide range of people. This could include a family member pushing a stroller, someone pushing a shopping cart, or a delivery person using a dolly to transport a heavy package. Though not designed for those specific needs in mind, when the support is built in from the start all people benefit.  

Each of these supports were designed to help ensure that people with disabilities can have access. However, everyone ultimately benefits.  

Accessibility is vital for sustainability 

Simply put, if something is inaccessible, then it is not sustainable. Sustainability requires proactive planning to ensure the greatest range of flexibility and accessibility from the very start. If something is purchased or designed without accessibility in mind, later on, someone will have to try and make that thing accessible. Continual change, remediation, and retrofitting is not sustainable and can take up valuable resources.  

Accessibility is the foundation for further inclusion  

Ultimately, the goal should be to focus on inclusion and belonging. Accessibility is an important foundation because it focuses on the pathways to participation. For many people, inclusion cannot occur unless accessibility is considered first. Accessibility and inclusion go hand and hand, but you cannot have inclusion without accessibility.