What’s the difference between Accessibility And Accommodations?

This is a point that can be challenging for people who are relatively new to accessibility, and whose frame of reference is based on a heavy reliance on accommodation.

In a physical space, an accessibility feature would be a curb cut or a ramp, while an accommodation might be having a team on call who can come out and lift a person up the curb.  Accessibility is a feature that allows people with an impairment to interact in a way that does not limit them.


  • Accessibility is something we do as a proactive measure to make it possible for people to interact.
  • Accommodation is something we do as a reactive measure when someone is not able to interact — or when the available means of interaction are not ideal for that person.

That proactive/reactive difference is critical to understanding why accessibility is such a big undertaking.  Because we can’t predict where we will have a need for accessibility, we can’t limit where we take this on. This is a change in operations that we need to take on across the institution.


Back to the Accessibility FAQ