Developed by Seabourne Consulting, experts in Accessibility

Accessibility


Accessibility is the practice of eliminating barriers so that all people can access opportunities, services, information, physical locations, and technologies. While accessibility should prioritize improving access for people with disabilities, it can also include eliminating language, socioeconomic, geographic, cultural, and other barriers to improve access for all people. 


More than 1 in 4 adults live with a disability in the U.S. One in 5 adults experience a mental health condition each year, 48 million people have hearing loss, 7.7 million people have a visual disability, and 6.8 million people use mobility devices. Improving accessibility means eliminating barriers that routinely prevent these groups, and millions of others, from accessing what they need. Historically, inaccessibility has been baked into the fabric of our society through systems, spaces, technology, and culture designed by and for able-bodied people. Driven by ableism and its intersections with racism, sexism, and other forms of marginalization, inaccessibility by design permeates all aspects of life. All people are impacted by inaccessibility, but people with disabilities are most significantly impacted. Disabled people who are living in poverty, located in rural communities, LGBTQ+, Black, Indigenous, and/or of color often struggle the most to thrive due to compounding marginalizations.


Thanks to centuries of self-advocacy and movement-building by the disabled community, accessibility has come a long way. Recently, COVID-19 magnified both the society-wide need for accessibility and the dire lack of accessibility for disabled people. While disabled and abled people alike celebrated the explosion of accessibility apps, contactless shopping, telehealth, and reduced flu seasons, many disabled people were left out of the advances. As public transportation faltered, waiting lines lengthened, services abruptly moved online, and medical facilities shut down entire programs to make space for COVID-19 patients, large parts of the world became less accessible for many people with disabilities. Disabled people who struggle with mobility, service access, healthcare continuity, internet access, verbal phone communication, and technological skills—especially those living in rural areas—are still struggling to recover from the upheaval.


Improving accessibility for all people means prioritizing accessibility for people with disabilities. It means ensuring disabled people have equitable access to opportunities, services, information, places, technologies, and everything else they need to thrive. Institutionalizing and operationalizing these practices throughout all leadership levels and all sectors will require organizations, allies, and systems to deeply center and follow the leadership of disabled people, especially disabled people of color and LGBTQ+ disabled people. Allies should start by recognizing that disability is a complex, deeply-personal experience, and that implementing genuine, lasting accessibility will require many diverse disabled voices in collaborative co-leadership. Community-led processes, self-representation, and centering the voices of people with disabilities—including invisible disabilities—are a few effective tactics communities can leverage to advance accessibility.


See also: people with disabilities, mental and behavioral health, neurodiversity, universal design, trauma-informed practices


Resources & Tools


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Accessible Health Care
Resource - Guide/handbook
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The Role of Business in Supporting Humane Housing
Resource - Policy Brief
Brought to you by WIN Network
Published on 02/25/2021
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The Best World Map for Accessibility
Resource - Journal Article
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Disability-Competent Care
Resource - Journal Article
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Disability and Health Inclusion Strategies
Resource - Website/webpage
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Types of Accessibility Aids
Resource - Website/webpage
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Healthy People 2030: People With Disabilities
Resource - Assessment/evaluation
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Disability Maps
Resource - Map
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University Disability Inclusion Dashboard
Resource - Assessment/evaluation
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Disability Rights Timeline
Resource - Website/webpage
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The ADA at 30: Looking Back and Ahead
Resource - Journal Article
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A Guide to Disability Rights Laws
Resource - Guide/handbook
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What is Disability Justice?
Resource - Journal Article
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Fact Sheet: Disability Discrimination
Resource - Policy Brief
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5 Ways to Include Disability in Equity Work
Resource - Journal Article
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Guide to the ADA Accessibility Standards
Resource - Guide/handbook
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Disability-Related Stress and Inaccessibility as Trauma
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons
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Creating More Accessible, Inclusive Buildings
Story - Written
Brought to you by CityLab
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Vitamin P: Tapping the Power of Place to Keep Us All Healthy
Story - Written
Brought to you by Community Commons
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Data Viz: Broadband Access and Usage
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons
Published on 09/28/2017
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Disability Integration Toolkit
Tool - Toolkit/toolbox
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Vaccine Website Accessibility Dashboard
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
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Data & Metrics


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Accessibility and Disability Equity Library
Library
Published on 09/01/2022

 Related Topics


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People with Disabilities

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Mental and Behavioral Health

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Autism

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Veterans

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Universal Design

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Health Equity