What is accessibility? Is it an action, a concept, a definition, or something else? Perhaps the better question is what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of accessibility?
What is accessibility
Accessibility is a popular word.
During November 2020, Google Trends revealed that for the search term, accessibility, the most popular question is “what is accessibility”.
Google Trends also indicates that the search term for “what is accessibility” has been increasing in popularity in the past few years.
How to perceive accessibility
Over the past couple of years, I have noticed people using accessibility in a different contexts.
- digital accessibility
- physical accessibility
- web accessibility
In some cases, these people did not make any distinction between accessibility and inclusion. I wanted to understand how and why people are using the term accessibility as if it was exclusive to their point of view.
Argument #1 | Perspectives
In a Slack group for digital accessibility specialists, I posed a question.
What does it mean to you to be an advocate for web accessibility? For example, I’m an accessibility advocate (for all things accessible, not just web accessibility). [I’m] curious to see if there’s a fine line between an accessibility advocate and a web accessibility advocate […].
Here are some of the responses.
I’d say the difference would lie in areas of expertise. I’m aware of accessibility in a general sense, but web accessibility is the specific area in which I can do a deeper dive into the structures to predict user experience outcomes and in which I can give more detailed and useful advice for making products accessible for a wide range of users. – Anne Heckel
Personally, I found Anne’s response interesting because “predict user expereince”. More often than not, it seems to me that accessibility issues occurs when designers and developers are unable to predict user eperiences.
I don’t think these are different things from a perspective of advocacy. i think they differ only be focus within the efforts of advocacy. – Charles Hall
Charles’s comment stood out because it framed accessibility as one simple concept that’s pushed behind many different advocacy efforts.
Argument #2 | Accessibility versus Usability
A well-known accessibility expert defined accessibility in a way that made me think twice.
Accessibility is usability for persons with disabilities. – Karl Groves
This is something I am still pondering on at the time of this writing. To me, usability has nothing to do with accessibility or disability. It has everything to do with whether we can use it or not. If “it” is not usable by a person with a disability, then it’s not usable.
Accessibility aims to make sure things work for people with disabilities. – Heydon Pickering
After unpacking my feelings and thoughts, I realized accessibility has two different meanings. Our right to access and the accessibility of that right.
Digital Accessibility versus Physical Accessibility
I like to say digital accessibility rather than web accessibility and include mobile apps and Xbox, Roku, and all connected devices. Physical access is different to me. – Joe Devon
Solution | Who does accessibility apply to?
One thing is clear.
Accessibility is a right and a solution.
When someone tells you that accessibility applies to a website, app, document, or other types of electronically-powered product or service, they are referring to digital accessibility.
The keyword is apply.
How is accessibility applied to your product or service?
Accessibility is a tool that’s considered the solution to eliminating barriers.
- Karl Groves Everything You Know About Accessibilty is Wrong (Part 3)
- Additional resources will be added later