Accessibility Frameworks and Models: Exploring the Potential for a Paradigm Shift

  • Sheryl BurgstahlerEmail author
  • Alice Havel
  • Jane Seale
  • Dorit Olenik-Shemesh


The focus of this chapter is accessibility frameworks and models that have the potential to promote a paradigm shift whereby the design of ICT and related practices that ensure the needs of students with disabilities are fully addressed. In order to examine the potential of models and frameworks to bring about such a paradigm shift and transform practice this chapter will: (1) review common frameworks and associated models that influence the design and delivery of accessibility services, (2) discuss whether something other than (or in addition to) existing frameworks and associated models is needed in order to activate a paradigm shift toward more inclusive ICT and practices, and (3) discuss the implications for future research and practice.


ICT Disability Higher education Accessibility Models Frameworks 



This chapter is based on work supported by the UK Leverhulme Trust and the US National Science Foundation (grant numbers CNS-1539179 and DRL-1824540). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy or views of the funding sources, and you should not assume their endorsement.


  1. Beaver, A. (2017). Creating a culture of sustainable accessibility: Stakeholders, models, and methods for change. Presentation at the Ed-ICT Montreal symposium on Stakeholder perspectives. Resource document. Ed-ICT.
  2. Beck, T., Diaz del Castillo, P., Fovet, F., Mole, H., & Noga, B. (2014). Applying universal design to disability service provision: Outcome analysis of a universal design (UD) audit. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 27(2), 209–222.Google Scholar
  3. Black, R. D., Weinberg, L. A., & Brodwin, M. G. (2015). Universal design for learning and instruction: Perspectives of students with disabilities in higher education. Exceptionality Education International, 25(2), 1–16.Google Scholar
  4. Boticario, J. G., Rodriguez-Ascaso, A., Santos, O. C., Raffenne, E., Montandon, L., Roldán, D., & Buendía, F. (2012). Accessible lifelong learning at higher education: Outcomes and lessons learned at two different pilot sites in the EU4ALL project. Journal of Universal Computer Science, 18(1), 62–85.Google Scholar
  5. Burgstahler, S., & Greear, K. (2017). Tips for collaboration between disability & technology services. Accessing Higher Ground conference, Boulder, CO. Resource document. AHEAD.
  6. Burgstahler, S. E. (Ed.). (2015). Universal design in higher education: From principles to practice (2nd ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.Google Scholar
  7. CAPRES. (2015). La conception universelle de l’apprentissage – CUA. Resource document. CAPRES.
  8. Center for Universal Design. (1997). The principles of universal design. Resource document. CUD.
  9. Fovet, F., Mole, H., Jarrett, T., & Syncox, D. (2014). Like fire to water: Building bridging collaborations between disability service providers and course instructors to create user friendly and resource efficient UDL implementation material. Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching, 7(1), 68–75. Scholar
  10. Hadley, W. M. (2011). College students with disabilities: A student development perspective. New Directions for Higher Education, 154, 77–81. Scholar
  11. Hockings, C. (2010). Inclusive learning and teaching in higher education: A synthesis of research. Resource document. Evidence Net.
  12. International Network on the Disability Creation Process. (n.d.). The model. Accessed 26 Sep 2019.
  13. Jorgensen, M., Fichten, C., King, L., & Havel, A. (2018). Proceedings of the Ed-ICT International Network Montreal Symposium: Stakeholder Perspectives. Resource document. Montreal, Canada: Adaptech Research Network.
  14. Kelly, B., Nevile, L., Draffan, E., & Fanou, S. (2008). One world, one web but great diversity. Paper presented at the 2008 international cross-disciplinary workshop on Web accessibility (W4A), Beijing, China. Accessed 26 Sep 2019.
  15. Kelly, B., Phipps, L., & Swift, E. (2004). Developing a holistic approach for e-learning accessibility. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 30, 3. Accessed 26 Sep 2019.
  16. Kouroupetroglou, G., Pino, A., & Kacorr, H. (2011, February 8–11). A model of accessibility services provision for students with disabilities in higher education. Proceedings of the International Conference Universal Learning Design, pp. 23–33, Brno. Accessed 26 Sep 2019.
  17. Leung, P., Owens, J., Lamb, G., Smith, K., Shaw, J., & Hauff, R. (1999). Assistive technology. Canberra, Australia: Department of Education, Training and Youth Affair.Google Scholar
  18. Loewen, G., & Pollard, W. (2010). The social justice perspective. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 23(1), 5–18.Google Scholar
  19. McGuire, J. M., & Scott, S. S. (2006). Universal design for instruction: Extending the universal design paradigm to college instruction. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 19(2), 124–134.Google Scholar
  20. Mole, H. (2013). A US model for inclusion of disabled students in higher education settings: The social model of disability and universal design. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 14(3), 62–86. Scholar
  21. Oliver, M. (1996). Understanding disability: From theory to practice. New York: St. Martin Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Papadopolous, G., Pearson, E., & Green, S. (2012). A provisional framework for supporting academics in accessible and inclusive e-materials development. In Proceedings of the 24th Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference, pp. 459–468. Accessed 26 Sep 2019.
  23. Permvattana, R., Armstrong, H., & Murray, I. (2013). E-LEARNING for the visually impaired: T A holistic perspective. International Journal of Cyber Society and Education, 6(1), 15–30. Scholar
  24. Portail du réseau collegial du Québec. (2016). Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in postsecondary education. Resource document. Portail du réseau collegial du Québec.
  25. Radermacher, H. L. (2006). Participatory action research with people with disabilities: Exploring experiences of participation. Doctoral dissertation. Accessed 26 Sep 2019.
  26. Rose, D. H., Harbour, W. S., Johnston, C. S., Daley, S. G., & Abarbanell, L. (2006). Universal design for learning in postsecondary education: Reflections on principles and their application. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 19(2), 135–151.Google Scholar
  27. Seale, J. (2006). E-learning and disability in higher education: Accessibility theory and practice (1st ed.). Oxford, UK: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Seale, J. (2017). Issues of stakeholder engagement: Who are the stakeholders of disability and ICT related practice in postsecondary education and how can they be effectively engaged? Resource document. Ed-ICT.
  29. Shakespeare, T. (1996). Disability, identity and difference. In C. Barnes & G. Mercer (Eds.), Exploring the divide: Illness and disability (pp. 94–113). Leeds, UK: The Disability Press.Google Scholar
  30. Shakespeare, T. (2010). The social model of disability. In L. J. Davis (Ed.), The disability studies reader (3rd ed., pp. 266–273). New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Sieben-Schneider, V., & Hamilton-Brodie, J. (2016). Doing the right thing: One university’s approach to digital accessibility. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 29(3), 221–230.Google Scholar
  32. Thomson, R., Fichten, C., Budd, J., Havel, A., & Asuncion, J. (2015). Blending universal design, e-learning, and information and communication technologies. In S. E. Burgstahler (Ed.), Universal design in higher education: From principles to practice (2nd ed., pp. 275–284). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.Google Scholar
  33. University of Washington. (2017). Symposium one: Effective models, frameworks, and approaches. Proceedings from the Ed-ICT International Network: Disabled students, ICT, post-compulsory education & employment: In search of new solutions. Seattle, WA. Resource document. Ed-ICT.
  34. University of Washington. (n.d.). Accessible technology at the UW. Resource document. University of Washington.
  35. US Department of Justice. (1990). American with Disabilities Act. Resource document. US Department of Justice.
  36. World Health Organization. (2018, March 2). International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). Resource document. WHO.
  37. World Wide Web Consortium. (n.d.). Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) overview. Resource document. W3C.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sheryl Burgstahler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alice Havel
    • 2
  • Jane Seale
    • 3
  • Dorit Olenik-Shemesh
    • 4
  1. 1.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Adaptech Research NetworkMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Faculty of Wellness, Education and Language StudiesThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK
  4. 4.The Open UniversityRa’ananaIsrael

Personalised recommendations