What is Accessibility?

There are many ways to define accessibility. Generally, within the context of higher education, accessibility refers to the degree to which materials, spaces, or experiences are designed to allow for an individual to participate and contribute equitably. Something is considered accessible if it allows for individuals to independently “acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services” (Joint Department of Justice and Department of Education "Dear Colleague" Letter on Electronic Book Readers). In short, the focus is on creating pathways that all individuals can take.  

Implementation of accessibility is something that happens with the mindful consideration of a number of factors. Ensuring accessibility requires an understanding of:  

  • The individual  
  • The context 
  • The purpose/goal of the interaction  

Accessibility should also be considered an iterative process. Accessibility is a key consideration at the very start of a design/development process, throughout the process, and during implementation.  

Nurse with textbook smiles