Accommodations benefit one person at a time, but accessible practice can benefit everyone who interacts with your material. Accessible design saves you time and effort in the future while benefiting the largest number of people in the present. It also reduces institutional risk.
Improve Usability for Everyone
Making your digital materials accessible can help anyone with a documented disability, but it will also help:
- People developing their English language skills
- People using older technologies to access the internet
- People in very loud or very quiet environments where speech is difficult or impossible to understand
- People using mobile devices: the Pew Research Center reported that 15 percent of people aged 18-29 depend on smart phones for online access, and 10 percent of Americans rely on mobile devices as their only form of high speed Internet access.
- Accessible content is ranked higher in search results.
- Accessible documents and transcripts can be searched by individuals and automated systems such as search engines.
- Flexible designs ensure access for individuals with diverse abilities, learning styles, and devices.
- Diversity that includes the experiences of people with disabilities creates a more vibrant, rigorous University community and enriches research and scholarship.
In the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the United Nations calls upon countries to “promote access to information by providing information intended for the general public in accessible formats and technologies (Article 21).” Designing your digital materials with accessibility in mind helps you meet the fundamental right to information for a much broader population.
Reduce the Cost of Accommodations
- Accessibility = equal access for everyone, by design
- Accommodation = additional support for needs that have not been met
Accessibility is proactive; accommodation is reactive. When you make accessible choices now, you will be able to support accommodations more quickly, cheaply, and effectively in the future.
Save Time and Effort in the Future
When you use correct headings or add alt text to images, those changes are saved. If you are pasting content from a Google Doc into a Canvas site, for example, the heading structure will remain intact. Creating content accessibly in the first place will save you time when you move that content into different tools or formats.
Reduce Institutional Risk
Under federal law, students with disabilities are guaranteed equally effective learning opportunities as students without disabilities. When you create accessible content, you help the University live up to the letter and the spirit of these laws and reduce the risk of legal consequences.