Disability and Universal Access 

According to a 2016 CDC study about the prevalence of disability, it was found that 26%, or one in four people, are living with a disability. 61 million people in the United States experience barriers when they access environments and resources. We lose a significant amount of human potential when we prevent everyone from being able to participate equally.  

While Universal Access arose out of the Disability Justice movement, it has become widely adopted by education because of its benefit to all students. 

CDC Disability Prevalence Infographic



Types of Disabilities 

Most studies find that about one fifth (20%) of the population has some kind of disability. Not all of these people have disabilities that make it difficult for them to access the internet, but it is still a significant portion of the population. 

Although we frequently discuss providing accessibility for blind users, there are many different types of disabilities that are protected under the law. These generally fall under a few broad categories (credit to WebAim.org):

accessibility pictograms
  • Visual - Blindness, low vision, color-blindness
  • Hearing - Deafness and hard-of-hearing
  • Motor - Inability to use a mouse, slow response time, limited fine motor control
  • Cognitive - Learning disabilities, distractibility, inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. Following these guidelines will make content accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities as well as more usable to users in general.