Research indicates that inaccessible website design persists despite the existence of anti-discrimination legislation and the influence of the social model of disability on policy development. In this paper, the concept of universal access is examined in the light of the social model of disability in relation to both the physical and virtual environments. The manner in which disability is often deemed a design afterthought is highlighted. The need for universal access is then placed alongside a discussion of access to the Internet in relation to an ageing population and people with cognitive difficulties. Subsequently, anti-discrimination provisions are analysed in relation to how they support designers’ focus on an accepted normality to which reasonable adjustments need to be made, rather than the acquisition of full universal access.