3 Accessibility vs. Accommodation

When looking at the difference between accessibility and accommodation, the above image is a wonderful visual. The image portrays three versions of the same scene. In the first scene, the three individuals are provided the same support (same size stool) in order to visually see the baseball game over a wooden fence. While this allows for two out of the three individuals access, the third individual still does not have the ability to visually see the game. This scene depicts equality: providing everyone the same support no matter individual differences.

In the second scene the tallest individual is provided no support; however, they can still visually see over the wooden fence. The second individual is provided some support (one stool), which allows access to the game, and the third individual is provided two stools, which also allows this individual access to visually see the game. The second scene depicts equity or accommodation: providing individuals additional support based on need.

Finally, the third and last scene shows a see-through fence instead of the wooden fence (barrier), previously seen in the other images. All individuals have access to the game without the need for additional supports (stools). This scene depicts accessibility.

Accessibility:

  • The responsibility of all who create or publish digital content.
  • Provided for all students, with no expectation of an explanation of need.
  • Expected for disabilities that are easily anticipated[2].

Accommodation:

  • Provided based on the specific needs of a student with a documented disability.
  • Determined by an accommodations specialist on a case-by-case basis.
  • Provided for students whose needs require great intervention, such as live American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreters or lecture transcripts for live courses.
  • For circumstances that are difficult to anticipate and prepare for[3].

**For example, ODR places accessible furniture in classrooms based on the documented need of a student. This furniture is an approved accommodation through ODR. However, the placement of this furniture, how it is integrated into the classroom, and the student’s ability to access the furniture upon entering, depicts an inclusive and accessible classroom.


  1. “Equality vs Equity.” Diffen, www.diffen.com/difference/Equality-vs-Equity.
  2. LaGrow, Martin. “The Section 508 Refresh and What It Means for Higher Education.” EDUCAUSE Review, 4 Dec. 2017, er.educause.edu/articles/2017/12/the-section-508-refresh-and-what-it-means-for-higher-education.
  3. LaGrow, Martin. “The Section 508 Refresh and What It Means for Higher Education.” EDUCAUSE Review, 4 Dec. 2017, er.educause.edu/articles/2017/12/the-section-508-refresh-and-what-it-means-for-higher-education.

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Access for All Copyright © 2020 by Alison Grimes and Danielle Smith. All Rights Reserved.

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