Accessibility is a general term used to describe the degree to which a product, device, service, or environment is available to as many people as possible. Accessibility can be viewed as the “ability to access” and possible benefit of some system or entity. Accessibility is often used to focus on people with disabilities or special needs and their right of access to entities, often through use of assistive technology.
Accessibility is not to be confused with usability which is used to describe the extent to which a product (e.g., device, service, environment) can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.
Accessibility is strongly related to universal design when the approach involves “direct access”. This is about making things accessible to all people (whether they have a disability or not). An alternative is to provide “indirect access” by having the entity support the use of a person’s assistive technology to achieve access (e.g., screen readers).
Apple includes assistive technology in its products as standard features — at no additional cost. For example, iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Mac OS X include screen magnification and VoiceOver, a screen-access technology, for the blind and visually impaired. To assist those with cognitive and learning disabilities, every Mac includes an alternative, simplified user interface that rewards exploration and learning. And, for those who find it difficult to use a mouse, every Mac computer includes Mouse Keys, Slow Keys, and Sticky Keys, which adapt the computer to the user’s needs and capabilities.
Microsoft is committed to accessibility, too.
Please consider accessibility when you are creating experiences.