Many people think that accessibility regulation just benefit those with disabilities (an estimated 24 million Americans!) but the value is much more broadly felt.
Accessibility offers advantages that go beyond ensuring usability for persons with disabilities. Many technologies first designed to assist persons with disabilities were later adopted because of their value to everyone. Consider the advantage curb cuts provide. Although first created for people in wheelchairs, they make access for cyclists and parents with strollers easier. Universal accessibility can help ensure that everyone has access to the tools and information they need to learn and communicate.
Electronic documents are often evaluated for its usability and accessibility. Though the terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference. Even if the document is “accessible”, there may still be serious usability problems that make it equally difficult for any person, disabled or non-disabled, to use it.
Usability focuses on how intuitive and easy it is for all people to use. Usable designs are consistent and simple to learn to use. Usability and accessibility often go hand-in-hand.
Accessibility is determined by how barrier free the technology is. Accessibility problems are those that make it more difficult for persons with disabilities to use an application or service than for a non-disabled person.
The key to accessibility is that it should be easy for everyone to use, including persons with disabilities.