What is Accessibility

Defining Accessibility

Accessibility means that websites, applications, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. When made accessible, all people can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with digital content.

Accessibility supports all disabilities that are affected by barriers to digital content and systems. Types of disabilities include auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual.

Accessibility also benefits people without disabilities, for example:

  • people using mobile phones, smart watches, smart TVs, and other devices with small screens, different input modes, etc.
  • people experiencing changing abilities due to aging
  • people with “temporary disabilities” such as a broken arm or lost glasses
  • people with “situational limitations” such as using electronic devices in bright sunlight or in an environment where they cannot listen to audio
  • people using a slow Internet connection, or who have limited bandwidth

Accessibility is Important

As a founding signatory of the UN Global Compact , Pearson is committed to respecting human rights. By making our products and our internal systems accessible, people with disabilities will have equal opportunities to improve their lives through learning and to advance in their careers. Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Eileen Donahoe states that the UN Human Rights Council’s Consensus Adoption of Resolution L13 on July 5, 2012 during their 20th session, is the “first ever UN resolution affirming that human rights in the digital realm must be protected and promoted to the same extent and with the same commitment as human rights in the physical world.” Access to information and communications technologies, including websites and applications, is defined as a basic human right in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) .

In 2019, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs reported that 95% of countries in Europe, 64% in the Americas, 73% in Asia, 48% in Africa, and 71% of countries in Oceania have accessibility standards and guidelines. The World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative maintains a Laws and Policies Page where they list, “governmental policies related to web accessibility.” Several countries in which Pearson does business have legislation about accessibility and equality for people with disabilities. A few examples are:

  • Australia: Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 “... makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person, in many areas of public life, including employment, education, getting or using services, renting or buying a house or unit, and accessing public places, because of their disability.”
  • United Kingdom: Equality Act of 2010 “... protects people against discrimination, harassment or victimisation in employment, and as users of private and public services based on nine protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.”
  • European Union - EN 301 549 outlines accessibility requirements for the procurement of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) products and services in Europe.
  • United States:
    • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) : “... prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.” For Assessments, The ADA Technical Assistance Manual , Part III-4.6100 under Specific Requirements states, “A private entity offering an examination covered by this section is responsible for selecting and administering the examination in a place and manner that ensures that the examination accurately reflects an individual's aptitude or achievement level or other factor the examination purports to measure, rather than reflecting the individual's impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills (except where those skills are the factors that the examination purports to measure).”
    • Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act : “... requires Federal electronic and information technology to be accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public.”

There is also a strong business case for accessibility. Accessible design improves overall ease of access as well as user experience and satisfaction. Accessibility can enhance your brand, drive innovation , and extend your market reach.

Continue learning - Understanding Disabilities and Barriers