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What Does Accessibility Mean?

Accessibility is a measure of how useable a computer system is to all people, including those with disabilities or impairments. It concerns both software and hardware and how they are configured in order to enable a disabled or impaired person to use that computer system successfully.


Technology designed to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals who have disabilities is referred to as assistive technology.

Techopedia Explains Accessibility

Accessibility refers to how software or hardware combinations are designed to make a system accessible to persons with disabilities, such as:

  • Visual impairment
  • Hearing loss
  • Limited dexterity

For example, a website developed with accessibility in mind might have text-to-speech capabilities or output for special braille hardware geared toward individuals with visual impairments. In today’s internet-driven world, the accessibility of a website is paramount in order for it to reach all audiences.

Accessibility also can be incorporated with other forms of digital media, like pictures and videos. Subtitles, for example, can help make a film more enjoyable for someone with a hearing impairment.

The word accessibility can be abbreviated to “a11y.” The number eleven in the middle refers to the number of letters that the word contains between the first and last letter. It follows an information and communications technology (ICT)-oriented convention, just like internationalization (i18n) and localization (l10n), which are used mostly in the software community.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.