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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Priority Populations Channel
Resource - Data Bank/repository
Brought to you by Community Commons
The Relationship Between Community Development and Health infographic
The Relationship Between Community Development and Health
Resource
Brought to you by Health Impact Project
PDF Cover: Accessible Health Care
Accessible Health Care
Resource - Guide/handbook
PDF Cover: Increasing the Physical Accessibility of Health Care Facilities
Increasing the Physical Accessibility of Health Care Facilities
Resource - Journal Article
Brought to you by CMS
First page of The Role of Business in Supporting Humane Housing business brief
The Role of Business in Supporting Humane Housing
Resource - Policy Brief
Brought to you by WIN Network
PDF Cover: Getting the Care You Need: Guide for People with Disabilities
Getting the Care You Need: Guide for People with Disabilities
Resource - Guide/handbook
Brought to you by CMS
Screen capture of The Best World Map for Accessibility webpage
The Best World Map for Accessibility
Resource - Journal Article
Screen capture of website: Disability-Competent Care
Disability-Competent Care
Resource - Journal Article
Screen capture of Covid-19 Continues to Highlight Gaps in Accessibility for People With Disabilities articles
COVID-19 Continues to Highlight Gaps in Accessibility for People with Disabilities
Resource - Blog
Brought to you by Johns Hopkins University
PDF Cover: How to Improve Physical Accessibility at your Health Care Facility
How to Improve Physical Accessibility at your Health Care Facility
Resource - Guide/handbook
Brought to you by CMS
Screen capture of cover image: Disability and Health Inclusion Strategies
Disability and Health Inclusion Strategies
Resource - Website/webpage
Brought to you by CDC
Shutterstock image: Types of Accessibility Aids
Types of Accessibility Aids
Resource - Website/webpage
Screen capture of Healthy People 2030: People With Disabilities webpage
Healthy People 2030: People With Disabilities
Resource - Assessment
Brought to you by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Screen capture of Dashboard cover: University Disability Inclusion Dashboard
University Disability Inclusion Dashboard
Resource - Assessment
Brought to you by Johns Hopkins University
Screen capture of Removing the Stumbling Block
Removing the Stumbling Block
Resource - Website/webpage
Screen capture of cover photo: How Steep is That Sidewalk? A Digital Map for People with Disabilities
How Steep Is That Sidewalk? A Digital Map for People With Disabilities
Resource - Journal Article
Brought to you by Yes! Magazine
Screen capture of article photo: The Pandemic's Silver Linings: Moving Toward a More Inclusive New Normal for People with Disabilities
The Pandemic’s Silver Linings: Moving Toward a More Inclusive New Normal for People with Disabilities
Resource - Journal Article
Brought to you by Network for Public Health Law
First page of District of Columbia B24-0429: Metro for D.C. Amendment Act of 2021 Health Note
District of Columbia B24-0429: Metro for D.C. Amendment Act of 2021
Resource - Report
Brought to you by Health Impact Project
Screen capture of Disability Rights Timeline article
Disability Rights Timeline
Resource - Website/webpage
PDF Cover: The ADA at 30: Looking Back and Ahead
The ADA at 30: Looking Back and Ahead
Resource - Journal Article
Screen capture of website: A Guide to Disability Rights Laws
A Guide to Disability Rights Laws
Resource - Guide/handbook
Screen grab of Water Insecurity and Population Health: Implications for Health Equity and Policy
Water Insecurity and Population Health: Implications for Health Equity and Policy
Resource - Policy Brief
Brought to you by Health Affairs
First page of How Involvement in the Criminal Justice System Affects Health
How Involvement in the Criminal Justice System Affects Health
Resource
Brought to you by The Pew Charitable Trusts
Screen shot of DDP's City Budget Campaign Wins
DDP's City Budget Campaign Wins
Resource - Website/webpage
Screen capture of cover photo: Digital Competency Versus Digital Accessibility
Digital Competency Versus Digital Accessibility
Resource - Case Study
Brought to you by OUP
Shutterstock image: What is Disability Justice?
What is Disability Justice?
Resource - Journal Article
PDF Cover: Fact Sheet: Disability Discrimination
Fact Sheet: Disability Discrimination
Resource - Policy Brief
Screen capture of The Art of Flourishing: Conversations on Disability webpage
The Art of Flourishing: Conversations on Disability
Resource - Website/webpage
Brought to you by The Hastings Center
Screen capture of article photo: 5 Ways to Include Disabiltiy in Equity Work
5 Ways to Include Disability in Equity Work
Resource - Journal Article
Screen grab of Health Note: FY 2020-21 Workers’ Compensation Budget (House Bill 80)
Health Note: FY 2020-21 Workers’ Compensation Budget (House Bill 80)
Resource - Report
Brought to you by Policy Matters Ohio
Screen capture of article cover photo: Understanding the Policing of Black, Disabled Bodies
Understanding the Policing of Black, Disabled Bodies
Resource - Journal Article
Brought to you by Center for American Progress
PDF Cover: Guide to the ADA Accessibility Standards
Guide to the ADA Accessibility Standards
Resource - Guide/handbook
Screen capture of Churches Don’t Have to Be Accessible. That’s Bad News for Voters. article
Churches Don’t Have to Be Accessible. That’s Bad News for Voters.
Story - Written
Brought to you by Mother Jones
Photo of person in a powerchair looking at a set of stairs with no ramp
Disability-Related Stress and Inaccessibility as Trauma
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons
Screen capture of Creating More Accessible, Inclusive Buildings
Creating More Accessible, Inclusive Buildings
Story - Written
Brought to you by CityLab
Screen capture of Autism-Friendly Apartments Open in Phoenix
Autism-Friendly Apartments Open in Phoenix
Story - Written
Brought to you by CityLab
Screen capture of What’s in Michigan’s Push To Expand Voting Rights article
What’s in Michigan’s Push To Expand Voting Rights
Story - Written
Brought to you by PBS
Vitamin P: Tapping the Power of Place to Keep Us All Healthy
Story - Written
Brought to you by Community Commons
Screen capture of Georgia's Separate and Unequal Special-Education System
Georgia's Separate and Unequal Special-Education System
Story - Written
Brought to you by TNY
Screen capture of How Disabled Voters Are Accessing Democracy article
How Disabled Voters Are Accessing Democracy
Story - Written
Brought to you by Yes! Magazine
Screen capture of Disability Justice Is LGBT Justice: A Conversation with Movement Leaders article
Disability Justice Is LGBT Justice: A Conversation With Movement Leaders
Story - Audio
Brought to you by Center for American Progress
Photo of a laptop and a notebook on a table
Data Viz: Broadband Access and Usage
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons
Published on 09/28/2017
Screen capture of Disability Integration Toolkit
Disability Integration Toolkit
Tool - Toolkit/toolbox
Shutterstock image: Vaccine Website Accessbility Dashboard
Vaccine Website Accessibility Dashboard
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
Screen shot of Is the Metro Accessible?
Is the Metro Accessible?
Tool - Data/mapping Tool

 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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Transportation

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Universal Design

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Older Adults

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Health Equity