Options based accessibility vs accommodations based accessibility

Ok so I wanna talk abt what I call “options based accessibility” vs “accommodations based accessibility”…

“Accommodations based accessibility” is what we’re mostly used to. There’s the default way of doing things & access needs disabled ppl have require an accommodation which is separate from the default. 

It may require modification of equipment, processes etc & will almost certainly involve gatekeeping via applications, medical documentation & likely a nondisabled person deciding what’s “reasonable”

“Options based accessibility” to me means integrating access needs info the default flow of doing things by providing non-gatekept options. 

Here’s an example of how something that’s done already to accommodate preferences in STEM workplaces. 

Many employers will offer employees a choice of computing devices to suit their work needs but also preferences. Mac or PC is a choice at many places. Others also offer Linux machines. 

Most of the time you can just choose what you need or prefer out of a catalog & order it. Same goes for accessories like monitors, input devices etc. 

Sometimes if they don’t carry something you can order it & charge it to your project. 

Except if you need something for a disability access need. Then you’re usually forced to go thru HR, fill application forms, provide medical documentation & get approved or not for specific accommodations incl equipment.

Only then may you order the item you need even if it’s something widely available & inexpensive. 

There are some exceptions to this. One workplace I’ve been at we could just book CART captioning for meetings w/o asking for specific accommodations but for everything else incl getting a printer for printing long documents to read, that req going thru disability accommodations process 

What I’m proposing is moving to an options based accessibility model that not only provides several default options but removes gatekeeping for other options bc “universal design” is like unobtanium & there’s no way to cover everything needed w a default set of options. 

Now the usual objection to stuff like this is ppl will ask for unreasonable things or ppl will abuse the system w/o gatekeeping. 

Here’s the thing. Many ways to fulfill access needs are still not fun. I’d have to see hard data that ppl suddenly want to do things this way for kicks. 

There do exist accessible equipment & processes that nondisabled ppl do want to use regularly. Examples would be stuff like WFH or ergonomic chairs. & I don’t see why ppl shouldn’t be allowed to use those. 

Businesses have so many implicit myths abt “productivity” & one seems to be that keeping employees uncomfortable is somehow good. Idk where this is coming from but it’s absurd. Many of these things don’t even cost much or at all. 

This applies not only to workplaces but other situations like educational institutions or even healthcare settings. Many disabled educators have written abt integrating accessibility into their class policies rather than students being forced to use inaccessible accommodations processes. 

In healthcare settings, something as simple as providing online chat or text options for communicating w clinic admin instead of having to make phone calls could make a huge difference to those of us w communication disabilities. It’s not something technologically difficult & if nondisabled ppl wanna use it too bc more convenient, so what? Maybe the clinic should focus on helping patients rather than gatekeeping helpful options.

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