Understanding accessibility

Understanding accessibility and its importance for individuals with disabilities

Accessibility is the degree to which a product, device, service, environment or facility is usable by as many people as possible, including by persons with disabilities. Accomplishing accessibility requires knowledge of accessibility standards, being aware of the needs of those with disabilities, and addressing barriers to access for individuals with disabilities.

Accessibility is a civil rightand the law.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) are federal civil-rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of a disability and apply to Indiana University. These laws are enforced by both the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Education (DOE).

What does this mean? If something isn’t accessible, we should accommodate it.


The Offices for Civil Rights (OCR) for both the DOJ and DOE define accessible as:

“‘Accessible’ means a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective and equally integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use. The person with a disability must be able to obtain the information as fully, equally and independently as a person without a disability.”

— from recent OCR resolution agreements including: University of Cincinnati Resolution Agreement OCR Compliance Review #15-13-6001 - December 2014, pg. 2