Understanding Accessibility and Inclusivity

Floe defines Inclusive Design as design that considers the full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age and other forms of human difference.

Disability is the mismatch between the needs and preferences of the user and the system or environment. Accessibility, then, is the ability of the system or environment to accommodate the needs and preferences of each individual. To further understand these definitions and what it means for content creation, adaptation, and usability, look at the Floe work describing some user states and contexts.

What is Inclusivity and how is it different from accessibility?

Technology has enabled users, of all abilities, access to information in many different environments and contexts - they are no longer limited in where and how they access information. Because of this freedom, users are now finding themselves in a wide range of situations where their ability to access information depends on many factors - both internal and external:

  • Is the user in a library where she can not listen to audio at a reasonable volume without being disruptive?
  • Is the user on a noisy, cramped subway train where network connectivity is limited, there is a lot of ambient noise, and mobility is restricted?
  • Is the user unable to concentrate fully to the task but still needs a particular piece of information on his mobile device - how can this be done?

Inclusiveness, or the practice of inclusivity, is the belief that the design of a "thing" – whether it is a piece of technology, an everyday object, or even information itself – should be mindful of a broad range of users, their variable abilities, their variety of environments, situations, and contexts.

Inclusiveness is different from accessibility in that inclusivity doesn't specifically address a particular need or problem - rather inclusivity provides a spectrum of tools and features that the end user can choose from to fit his or her requirements in the given context. In short, Inclusiveness is not prescriptive since the user chooses how best to help themselves.

To learn more, see the Inclusive Design Guide:

What is Accessible?

An accessible learning experience is a learning experience that matches the needs of the individual learner or the learners within a group. Thus a resource cannot be labeled as accessible or inaccessible until we know the context, the learning goal and the learner (or learners). An Open Education Resource (OER) may be accessible to one group of learners and not another. See Accessibility principles for more information.

What Makes Content Accessible?

The Floe approach to inclusive learning emphasizes a "one size fits one" approach. Instead of having a single resource that tries to meet every possible need and preference (i.e., "one size fits all"), Floe encourages a diversity of individualized resources that meet the diverse needs and preferences of leaners through transformation, supplementation, and remixing of existing resources.

Also see Meet Learner Needs and Preferences

To learn more, see the Inclusive Design Guide: