What is Accessibility?

by | Mar 26, 2024 | CoE-A | 0 comments

Imagine if you couldn’t go to your favorite park because there aren’t adequate facilities or measures that would make you feel welcomed. That wouldn’t be fair, right? Accessibility makes sure that everyone can join in and enjoy life’s adventures independently.  Accessibility is like a bridge that connects us and makes our communities stronger and more inclusive. When we make services accessible, we’re not just helping people with disabilities; we are making the world a better place for everyone.

At its core, accessibility is the practice of removing barriers. These barriers can be physical, like stairs that hinder someone with mobility challenges from entering a building, or digital, such as websites that aren’t compatible with screen readers used by people with low vision. Accessibility also extends to communication, ensuring that information is available in various formats, like sign language to people with hearing impairment or braille for people with visual impairment, to cater to diverse needs.

Accessibility is a fundamental human right that ensures equal opportunities, independence, and meaningful participation for all individuals, regardless of their physical, sensory, cognitive, or other abilities. It encompasses a wide range of elements and services designed to remove barriers, both physical and attitudinal, that can hinder the full participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society. Accessibility is a core principle enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and is integral to the mission of organizations like the National Federation of the Disabled – Nepal (NFDN).

The UNCRPD, a landmark international treaty adopted in 2006 and ratified by numerous countries, including Nepal, defines accessibility as one of its central principles. Article 1 of the CRPD states: “Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which when interacting with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.” Article 9 of the Convention, titled “Accessibility,” explicitly outlines the importance of making the physical environment, transportation, information, and communication systems accessible to persons with disabilities. It emphasizes the need to ensure that persons with disabilities can live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life.

According to the World Health Organization, accessibility refers to “the extent to which people can be assisted in using products, devices, services, or environments, regardless of their disabilities or functional limitations.” This definition underscores the notion that accessibility is about providing assistance and support to ensure equal access.

In a world as diverse as ours, the concept of accessibility holds tremendous significance. It’s not just about ramps or designated parking spots; it’s a fundamental principle that shapes our societies, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their abilities or differences, can fully participate in all aspects of life. Accessibility, in essence, is about creating a more inclusive world where one can enjoy one’s life independently with the availability of assistance catering to one’s needs. 

In conclusion, accessibility is a cornerstone of human rights and a critical element in ensuring the full and meaningful participation of everyone in society. It encompasses physical, informational, attitudinal, and technological dimensions. By actively promoting and implementing accessibility measures, societies can pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable future where every individual can realize their full potential, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.