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What is Accessibility?


As defined by Merriam-Webster (2016) accessibility means "providing access; capable of being reached; being within reach; easy to communicate or deal with; capable of being influenced: open; capable of being used or seen: available; capable of being understood or appreciated".


Leo Valdes (1998) created a definition for accessibility while working with the United Nations on the UN Enable project that states accessibility is a “means providing flexibility to accommodate each user’s needs and preferences.”


The need for accessibility is very often due to a disability.


  • According to the United Nations approximately 15% of the world's population (about 1 billion people) is disabled.
  • In the United States, roughly 20% of the population is considered disabled.
  • In countries where the average life expectancy is greater than 70 years old, the citizens of those countries will on average spend 8 years of their lives with a disability.


It is for these reasons that it is paramount that content that is accessed by the public be created and formatted in a way that is completely accessible to everyone.



"Accessibility." Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Publication City: Publisher, year. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/accessible. March 16, 2016.


Valdes, L. (1998). Accessibility on the internet [United Nations Enable]. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/disacc00.htm.

Page last updated: July 6, 2016