What is Accessibility?
Accessibility is the ability to use a product (service or system) under limiting conditions resulting from functional or situational limitations. Functional limitations can be physical or mental (cognitive) and are usually associated to individuals with disabilities. Blindness, carpal tunnel syndrome, and arthritis are examples of functional limitations. Situational limitations arise from the need to use some resource under unfavorable conditions and affect us all. The need for eyes and hands free operation of a cellular phone while driving is an example of a situational limitation.
Accessibility makes resources that are well designed and implemented usable for individuals with disabilities. A person with disabilities uses some form of assistive technology to access the resource. For example, when a blind person is using a screen reader.
Assistive technologies, accessibility, and usability are three components that work together. For example in navigating the web, a person with a disability uses assistive technology to access information that is accessible. Beyond the resource being accessible to the disabled user, the information must be usable. A usable site is one that can be used effectively and efficiently and leads to user satisfaction. Accessibility and usability are best implemented when considered holistically and early in the design of the resource.
Why Consider Accessibility?
As a result of federal regulations (Section 508) accessibility is in the forefront of interface design for organizations dealing with the production of hardware, software and websites. There are however better reasons to develop accessible resources other than complying with the law. In particular, the resources become available to a broader group of people and in situations where use of the resource may have been limited. Resources designed with accessibility and usability in mind result in more effective access to information and higher levels of user satisfaction. Accessible sites often result in cost savings, and increased revenue from eCommerce transactions. Most importantly, there are ethical considerations, accessibility is not only the law, it's the right thing to do!
Contents of this site were developed to provide awareness and skills training for higher education and K-12 faculty concerning development and delivery of accessible electronic and classroom resources.
Initial funding was provided by the Southeast Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center (SEDBTAC). At the University of Florida, the Office of Academic Technology, Dean of Students Accessibility Office, and Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance Office were responsible for preparing and assembling the content.
The material from this site may be modified for use by other Educational Institutions after requesting permission from the developers or the SEDBTAC.