De-Emphasizing Disability to Increase Accessibility?

Bios & Handouts

Scheduled at 2:15pm in Waverly on Wednesday, November 14.



  • Christopher Phillips, EIT Accessibility Coordinator, Utah State University

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: All Levels
  • Type of session: General Conference


A common saying in the accessibility community is that making something more accessible also makes it more usable. Join this session to consider strategies to create inclusive experiences that emphasize usability over accessibility that challenge ideas around why we do what we do.


While most people agree in concept with the general idea of accessibility, it can be difficult to convince someone that it is important enough to start creating accessible content. Increased usability is sometimes shared as a valuable byproduct of making content more accessible. What happens when we flip that script and advocate for usability first as a way to help people create more inclusive experiences?

In this session I will share strategies and tools that came from conversations with overburdened instructors who cared about accessibility but struggled to find time in the face of competing priorities. While a focus on legal risk of accessibility and compliance can instill fear and provide temporary motivation, lasting change can only happen when the accessibility work aligns with an individuals priorities and values. Come learn about successes, challenges and lessons learned from our efforts to increase accessibility using unconventional methods that may challenge your status quo


  1. Accessibility advocacy is most effective when it understand and aligns with the goals of the audience.
  2. Balancing usability efforts that impact all students vs specific accommodations that impact a few.
  3. Specific examples of efforts to increase accessibility by focusing on usability with instructors.

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Faculty Instruction/Accessible Course Design, Other, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Christopher Phillips

Christopher Phillips is the Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Coordinator at Utah State University. He is responsible for making sure campus electronic and information technology is accessible and he is currently focused creative ideas and solutions to implement more inclusive digital experiences.

He brings his previous worked in special education, instructional design, web development and product management to accessibility work.