Why accessibility is more than just a bad term, it is a dangerous one.

Or- how wording can shape our perception. 


We live in a world in which the importance of terminology and the written word couldn’t be more important than it is. I believe the enormous power our words have must be appreciated and addressed appropriately, and I had tattooed the Hebrew word for “Word” over my skin to remind myself to never dismiss such powers as they are destructive just as they are constructive.


In our species past, words and the ability to read and write them were one of the most powerful abilities out there. The greatest change in our evolution took place when the cultural oppression over the power of the written word was lifted, and education began its way towards what seems nowadays as an obvious position, a necessity and a right, crucial to any human being, to maximize his/hers/theirs/(etc.) potential, and to ensure equality in its deepest core- equal dreams, equal education, equal opportunity. 

But looking back, we have to remember, the education we now view as a basic fact of life, wasn’t (and in some areas, still isn’t) such an obvious resource. It was controlled by religious patriarchies, limited and banned from the general population, to a point of demonization over some periods (as late as 20 years ago in some remote areas of our globe)- for a simple face: NO WORDS = NO EDUCATION = EASIER CONTROL OVER PEOPLE. 

Just try to imagine our world- without a free press, without the ability to read or understand the free press, without the freedom of speech… impossible.     



Luckily, most of us live in a world that already made its way past the aforementioned dark eras. We are using our words and education as a basic resource; we value our opportunities over anything else, and we cherish the depth they enable. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so many others are word-based mediums. Illiteracy is almost gone worldwide- and we now know we must try and help our fellow-man when the access or power of words is somewhat limited.  

Accessibility as a term

Accessibility, the most renowned term to explain the need for equality over the internet and the physical world. I understand its origins as the process of physical inclusion is way older than the web-based one- and the need for physical access was a good banner for a noble cause. By making our businesses accessible, we took a great leap towards inclusion. 


So, what might be the problem you ask? Accessibility always felt apologetic to me. “Please, just grant us this basic right, grant us the ability to access your business (or party, pick your favorite example). But we use the internet as the main tool of our modern existence! To be able to walk through the door isn’t enough! We must ensure the ability to use (at least) the core of our web use to achieve basic equality! Hence- we should all ditch accessibility and start bringing USABILITY to the front of the stage.



The best thing about our future is that I believe equality is advancing; maybe not in the quickest of paces, maybe not even fast enough, but moving to a better place. When we know where to, we generally know-how. The human race had left slavery in its past, simply by accepting the truth about the horrors of slavery and swearing to destroy old beliefs to make room for growth. If we were able to beat one of our history’s greatest economical and physical strengths- by deciding it’s no longer acceptable, we can all change and tip the scales in favor of real equality. 


BUT THAT ALL STARTS, WITH THE RIGHT WORDS. May we all use better, kinder, more inclusive wording. Not just for equality, but any other noble cause. At the end of the day- that is how we better ourselves as humans.


Gidi Weiler
Purple lens – UX driven accessibility platform