Accessibility vs Accommodation

Accessibility is what we should expect to be ready for us without asking or planning ahead. It can be provided by following an easy to implement set of standards and practices that make "adaptation" unnecessary. We can benefit from accessibility without announcing or explaining our disabilities.

Accommodation is for adaptations that can't be anticipated or standardized. They are different for each individual. Although we should expect there to be a general willingness to accommodate us wherever we go, we can't expect actual, specific accommodations unless and until we ask for them. We do have to announce, and may have to explain our disabilities a bit in order to get accommodations.

Accessibility is the baseline of equal service, and accommodation is the second step to take when accessibility alone isn't enough.
(Pulrang, 2013)


Accessibility guidelines provide the basic or foundational level of access to our campus within our community. There are a variety of accessibility guidelines that shape what we do on our campus. Including:

  • Width of doorways
  • Elevators and ramps
  • Curb cutouts
  • Housing arrangements
  • Digital content
Accessibility guidelines are what we all should strive to consider and incorporate in all the content we create and share within our community



Accommodations are different than accessibility in that they are specific and individualized for one community member. Accommodations are in place to support individuals when general accessibility principles are not sufficient.

Essentially, accommodations are something an individual requests through a specific process. If accommodations are warranted, then the appropriate department/individual on campus will provide a record of the approved accommodations through an official university communication.