Accessibility and accommodation, two terms that are often associated with one another,

are actually two very different concepts.

To help you better understand the difference between them,

let’s start by talking about the one with which you may already be familiar.

Have you ever been asked to give a student extended time on a test,

or been asked to wear a microphone, so a student with a hearing impairment could more clearly hear you?

If so, then you were providing an accommodation.

Accommodations are intended to level the playing field for students with disabilities.

In order to receive an accommodation, a student must have a medically documented disability

and must register with your university’s Disability Support Office.

The staff there will meet with the student to determine which accommodations will be appropriate.

Some other examples of accommodations in higher education

include taking tests in a separate setting, having a note taker or permission to record lectures,

and using a sign language interpreter.

Accessibility, on the other hand, refers to a set of design standards,

developed by the World Wide Web Consortium,

to ensure online materials are available to everyone--

regardless of the means by which the content is acquired.

So, what does that mean?

Well, if you think about it, there’s lots of ways people can access online materials.

They can use a computer, smartphone, tablet, or glasses!

But how might the experience be different for people who are unable to see or hear the content?

How might this change the experience of an online class?

There are actually many assistive technologies available that make accessing online materials possible

for people with vision, hearing, or mobility impairments.

For example, a student with a vision disability may use a refreshable braille display

or a screen reader to access an online course.

[JAWS SCREEN READER] Course colon Creating Accessible Documents.

Heading list dialog. Heading List view.

Navigation colon Administration colon two. Enter.

Heading level two: Administration.

[VOICEOVER RESUMES] If the course was created with accessibility in mind,

then it will be just as easy for the student using assistive technology to navigate

and receive information from the course, as it would be for a peer with no impairment.

Accessibility guidelines define how materials intended for the online environment should be designed.

Some of the guidelines include consideration for color and contrast, building structure into a page,

providing a text representation of images, captioning videos, and creating descriptive hyperlinks.

So, to sum up the difference between accommodation and accessibility,

if we think of an accommodation as assistance intended to help one student succeed,

then accessibility proactively ensures online materials meet the needs of a diverse audience.