Some define web accessibility to mean making the web accessible to those with disabilities (including visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive) 1. However, I prefer the more general meaning of making the web accessible equally to everyone, including those with disabilities 2. To take this further, regardless of whether someone has a disability, they should be able to access information in their preferred manner including using any browser, operating system, or device.
A quick (but common) example of a problem is how a user is expected to control a video if they cannot use a mouse to click on buttons (they may depend on a keyboard or be visually impaired), especially when most videos still use some form of Flash. Try it sometime, and see what happens. Web accessibility guidelines, such as WCAG, attempt to address these issues.
Accessibility is a large and thorny topic, which I’m discovering first-hand as we try to ensure that one of our systems is section 508 compliant so it can be used for public access to certain information. And I definitely have a new appreciation for anyone who has to use a screen reader to use a computer!
And this just in: W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Approved as ISO/IEC International Standard (INFOdocket)