What is accessibility and what does it mean for websites?

The University of Minnesota is committed to ensuring that all individuals have access to information and information technology associated with administration and services, courses of instruction, departmental programs, and University-sponsored activities.—

Accessibility is an important topic with ethical and legal implications. It’s relevant for anyone contributing content on the web—or making purchases, creating and sharing documents, and more.

This is how the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) defines web accessibility:

Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the web. More specifically, Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the web, and that they can contribute to the web... Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the web, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities.

People access information on the web in many different ways. There's mobile, tablets, laptop, desktop computers, as well as a wide range of assistive technology (such as screen readers) to aid people who may otherwise have difficulty accessing the web. Find out more about how people with disabilities use the web.

What's the difference between accessible, usable, and universal design?

The University of Minnesota's Computer Accommodations Program explains that:

People rely on technology access to perform a variety of tasks and enhance productivity. At the University of Minnesota, the Internet is used to register for classes, participate in courses, take exams, schedule appointments, submit forms, monitor operations, conduct research and much more. The form and format of information on a Web site can either help or hinder access. It is the responsibility of the web page author to present information in a way that ensures access by a diverse audience — including individuals with disabilities.

Accessibility video

The State of Minnesota has an excellent video (17 minutes) that walks through what accessibility is, its significance, and shows people using a variety of adaptive technologies.

Watch accessibility overview video from

Resources available

University of Minnesota resources

The University of Minnesota provides accessibility resources through the Computer Accommodations Program, a partnership of the Disability Resource Center and the Office of Information Technology.

The University also has a Board of Regents policy on the accessibility of information technology, linked to on the AHC communications list of policies and procedures.

Accessibility website