Blurred lines: Accessibility, disability, and definitional limitations
Using the example of recent access problems caused by Apple’s iOS7 operating system for the iPhone, this paper interrogates the history and utility of the concept of “accessibility.” The term’s reliance on definitions of disability, particularly in the U.S. legal context, and the blurring nature of information technologies have made it increasingly difficult to differentiate between accessibility for people with disabilities and usability concerns for the general public. The author uses disability theory to argue that access is a complicated phenomenon, and that even given the difficulties in establishing definitions of “accessibility,” the concept is worthwhile because it carries with it reminders of the politics of difference, the difficulties of access, the history of disability rights, and the relationship of media to civil rights and public participation.
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