Accessible Design

Accessible Design

Accessible design is a design process in which the needs of people with disabilities are specifically considered. Accessibility sometimes refers to the characteristic that products, services, and facilities can be independently used by people with a variety of disabilities. Accessibility as a design concern has a long history, but public awareness about accessibility increased with the passage of legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which mandated that public facilities and services be fully accessible to people with disabilities.

In 1998 an amendment to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was passed. The amendment mandated that the Access Board develop accessibility standards for software, hardware, websites, videos, and other information technology. Although these standards apply directly to the development, procurement, modification, and use of information technology of U.S. federal agencies, many states, educational institutions, and other entities have adopted them as one way to meet their ADA obligations. The Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium has also developed guidelines and comprehensive resources for designing accessible web pages.