What is Accessibility?

What is Accessibility?

Accessibility is the extent to which all people can participate in the world around us and benefit from products, services, and activities. The term accessibility refers to how people with disabilities, the elderly, and individuals with temporary impairments perceive, navigate, and interact with the environment.

We can all break down barriers that impede people with disabilities by learning about accessibility and doing our part to implement it throughout the university. This page will give you a basic understanding of accessibility and can serve as an informative resource for anyone researching this topic.

There are four major categories of disability types:

Hearing: a person who is deaf or hard of hearing.

Visual: a person who is blind, visually impaired, or colorblind.

Cognitive: a person with a learning disability or memory loss.

Mobile: a person with a disability affecting their ability to move.

Universal Design

Design with accessibility in mind! Save time, energy, and money by designing your class, product, or website to be accessible.

Universal Design is essentially building and developing a product or service that can be accessed by everyone. Everything from buildings to websites to curriculums can be created using universal design principles.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) has been an important topic at universities and in schools. By transforming teaching so that classroom instruction can be flexible and meet the needs of every individual student, Universal Design for Learning provides each student with an equal opportunity to learn and succeed.

Quote by Amber Cheek, Disability Inclusion and ADA Compliance Manager

"Using accessible tools and software is incredibly important. Just by choosing accessible programs, we can make barriers that some of our students, faculty, and staff have experienced all their lives simply disappear. With accessible courses, students with a wide range of disabilities can have an equal shot, without going through the extra time and expense of finding other ways to access the content we all need to use. More colleges are shifting from viewing accessibility as an afterthought, something they do to comply with the law, towards thinking about it as something that fundamentally makes a difference in people’s lives.

The most important thing to remember is that it's always easier if you're proactive and thinking about accessibility from day one, when you're planning your courses and programs, rather than trying to make inaccessible content accessible in the middle of the school year. There are a lot of exciting developments happening at universities all over the country right now, and here at Mizzou we want to be at the forefront of that."

Implementing Accessibility

There are a variety of ways to implement accessibility at the university and in the wider community. Here are a few examples to get you started: 

  • Physical environment: Modify the entrance to a building with the addition of a wheelchair ramp.
  • Products and services: Provide sign language interpreters at a presentation or performance.
  • Electronics: Build a screen reader into a mobile device so that users who are blind can hear items displayed on the screen.
  • Learning Materials: Make PDFs accessible so they can be read by a blind person using a screen reader.
  • The Web: Create a website that can be navigated solely with the keyboard for people who cannot use the mouse.

Accessibility at MU

MU is dedicated to maintaining an accessible university environment. The university values diversity and strives to foster a community that is inclusive of everyone. People with diverse abilities are welcomed and encouraged to participate in all aspects of the university experience: from education to campus recreation and everything in between. View the MU Accessibility Policy.

Want to learn more about accessibility on campus? 

  • Disability Center: This is where students with disabilities receive accommodations and services that allow them to participate fully in the university experience. To request accommodations for a documented disability, register on their website.
  • Accessibility and ADA: The office of Accessibility and ADA makes sure the university follows the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Adaptive Computing Technology Center: Students, faculty, and staff at Mizzou can find adaptive assessments, training, workstation analysis, and web accessibility consultations here.
  • Chancellor's Committee for Persons with Disabilities: The Committee for Persons with Disabilities works with the provost to ensure that campus programs and facilities are accessible to persons with disabilities.

These offices are great resources for those learning about what accessibility looks like on campus. Remember though, they are not the only entities responsible for creating an accessible environment at MU. We all play a part in creating a world of learning that is supportive of and encouraging to everyone.


Would you like more information on accessibility? The following links will lead you to resources that can increase your understanding of a variety of topics concerning accessibility: