Glossary of Accessibility Terms

A list of common accessibility terms with descriptions of each. If you’d like to discuss how any of these terms apply to your company or project, please don’t hesitate to reach contact us.

Term Definition
508 Standards Standards that contain technical criteria for the performance of electronic and information technology used by federal agencies. The driving purpose behind these standards is to require that Federal employees with disabilities have comparable access/ability to use information as do Federal employees without disabilities. Also, disabled memebers of the public trying to access information or services from the Federal government must have comparable access as non-disabled members of the public.
A11Y The term A11Y represents "accessibility."
Accomodation Focusing on the user, on providing needed technology to allow the user to access the materials.
Application Software designed to perform, or to help the user to perform, a specific task or tasks.
ARIA Accessible Rich Internet Applications. This technical specification is used to increase the accessibility of web pages.
Assistive Technology (AT) Tools/systemes/etc., used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
Audio Control If audio plays automatically for more than 3 seconds, a mechanism needs to be available to pause or stop the audio, or a mechanism needs to be available to control the audio volume independently from the overall volume of the system.
Audio Description Some refer to audio description as 'audible alt text' because its function is to convey audibly information that is not stated/obvious/clear to blind users or users with low vision. Audio description can be added to video presentations.
Authoring Tool Software, or software components, that can be used to create or modify content for use by others.
Automated Testing Accessibility testing can be done with software programs or apps that automatically review the code used to build web pages (among other templates) to look for some kinds of accessibility errors. All automated tool outputs should also be manually checked.
aXe JavasScript library that executes automated accessibility testing inside testing framework or browser.
Captions Captions are provided for all prerecorded audio content.
U.S. CIO The U.S. Chief Information Office serves as a resource for information on federal information technology and is deeply rooted in accessibility protocol.
Closed Functionality Some ICT products have closed functionality, and make the use of some assistive technologies not possible. Some examples of this are: are self-service machines, fax machines, calculators, etc.
Color The use of color can influence the accessibility of content. Is all information that is conveyed with color also available without color?
Colorzilla Tool for amending/evaluating/analyzing color on a page. It is free to download
Compatible The goal here is to maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.
Conformance The level to which a product is accessible will be determined by the level of conformance that the client wants to achieve (A, AA, AAA). This term is often used interchangeably with compliance.
Content Electronic information and data, as well as the encoding that defines its structure, presentation, and interactions.
Content Scalability Because we can't predict the type of device, screen resolution, or magnification a user needs to view content, it's important that designers create text and design elements that do not rely solely on their position on the screen.
Contrast The visual presentation of text and images must follow guidelines to ensure that students with difficulty distinguishing color (i.e., color blind) are still able to access and comprehend the materials.
CSS A style sheet language used for describing the presentation of a document written in a markup language.
Decorative Image An image in a book/web page/etc. that does not add information or supplement the learning experience. The image is used for aesthetic reasons only and does not require an alt text description.
Directional Language Words such as below, left, or right, which require that the user can see the visual layout of the page and which should not be used when writing content for a website.
Distinguishable Elements on the page can be difficult to access if color/contrast is used as the sole indicator of a learning element, link, etc. and pertains to screen reader content
E&IT Electronic and information technology.
Enough Time There are guidelines referring to the user's ability to pause/amend time constraints regarding video/audio/interactive content
Focus Indicators Basic focus indicator is provided by web browsers and is typically shown as an outline around the focused element.
Hardware These are considered the physical components of ICT and include computers, telephones, etc.
Headings These provide structure to a page and allow the user of assistive tech, such as screen readers, an easier, more intuitive environment to naviigate.
I.D.E.A. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is U.S. legislation that ensures services to children with disabilities, across the country.
Illustrative Art Images that are created, not procured.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) This is somewhat of an umbrella term that encompasses just about any device or software used for communication.
Input Assistance Inserting information into specific fields can be a difficult task for the seeing impaired. Field names must be labeled, e.g., month, time, etc., and positioned in a predictable manner.
JAWS A Windows-only screen reader.
Keyboard Navigation The way in which a user interacts with a screen reader is through the keyboard. There are various functions and operations the user can achieve via the keyboard.
Label Labeling controls are created to help the user identify form controls--buttons, drop-down menus, text fields.
Level A This is the minimum level of compliance to the WCAG 2.0 guidelines.
Level AA This is the compliance level that can be considered the current "standard" for WCAG 2.0 guidelines.
Level AAA This is the highest level of compliance for the WCAG 2.0 guidelines.
Long Description For alt text image descriptions, any description that requires 32 words or more will be separated into both short and long descriptions. The short description will be concise, and the long description will contain the bulk of the description.
MAGic A screen magnification software.
MathML Mathematical Markup Language (an application of XML) is used to create mathematical notation, allowing the symbols and structure to be read and accessed by a screen reader.
Manual Testing Testing process to evaluate whether materials meet the accessibility requirements, such as looking over an alt text description to ensure that the content matches the lesson/materials
Menu A set of selectable options.
Multi-modality Offering support for as many types of information access as possible, including visual, auditory, and tactile.
Null Alt Tag Not all images need an alternative text description. A null text alternative (alt="") will essentially hide it from assistive technologies, and will allow the screen reader to ignore the image.
NVDA A screen reader.
Operable Component of functionality in which functionality is made available from a keyboard and that helps users navigate and find content.
Operable Part A component of ICT used to activate, deactivate, or adjust the ICT.
Operating Environment Environment which governs user agent operations, i.e., an operating system or a programming language environment such as Java.
P.E.A.T. The Photosensitive Epilepsy Analysis Tool (PEAT) is used to prevent content that can cause seizures.
Perceivable Content is presented in a way, or multiple of ways, without losing meaning.
Platform Accessibility Services Examples include API (application programming interfaces) and DOM (Document Object Model), which are provided by a platform and allow interoperability with assistive technology.
P.O.U.R. Principle This is a principle of the WCAG guidelines meaning perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.
Programmatically Determinable The ability to be determined and extractable by assistive technologies, in order to present the information to users via different methods/processes/procedures.
Public Facing Content made available by an agency to members of the general public. Examples include but are not limited to an agency website, blog post, or social media page.
Readability WCAG guidelines recommends the use of a lower secondary education level reading ability equivalent when writing content for websites or applications.
Real-Time Text Transmission of characters as they are typed. Examples include interactive voice response systems, voice mail, etc.
Relative Luminance The relative luminance of the color of linked text must differ from the relative luminance of the surrounding text by a contrast ratio of 4.5:1
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Often just called the “Rehab Act," it prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs run by federal agencies, in programs that receive federal financial assistance, in federal employment, and in the employment practices of federal contractors.
Screen Readers Tool that reads the text to the user, allows navigation, and considers focus, content, navigation, and links.
Section 504 (of the Rehab Act) This prohibits discrimination based on disability in federally funded and federally conducted programs or activities in the United States.
Section 508 (of the Rehab Act) This requires that federal agencies procure E&IT that is accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public.
Seizures Students with epilepsy are at risk for seizures if elements flash more than 3 times per second.
Short Description For alt text image descriptions, a short description is approximately 32 words or less. If more than 32 words are used, a long description will also be required.
Synchronized Closed Captioning The closed captioning for a video/presentation must be synchronized with the content of the video/presentation.
Tech Art Images of a technical nature, including but not limited to graphs.
Text Alternatives Or "alt text," refers to the description written for images, in an attempt to convey the essential information that the image conveys.
Transcripts This refers to the transcript for video or audio elements.
Understandable Content and learning environments are created in a manner that allows text to be readable and predictable and that helps users to avoid and correct mistakes
U.S. Access Board Federal agency that promotes equality for people with disabilities. This agency also passed new ammendments to the 508 rules governing accessibility as it pertains to education.
User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) Document explaining how to make user agents accessible to people with disabilities, including browsers, media players, and other applications rendering web content.
VoiceOver iOS screen reader.
W3C World Wide Web Consortium is an international community that develops standards to ensure the long-term growth of the web. This consortium created the WCAG guidelines.
WAI Web Accessibility Initiative created by the W3C to make the web accessible to all.
Wave Tool Bar This is a free web accessibility evaluation tool used to assist developers and testers in the website accessibility process.
WCAG 2.0 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines for making web content more accessible. There are three levels of testing, referred to as A, AA, and AAA.
Wiris Editor A way to insert mathematical formulas into web pages that will also supply an alternative text equivalent of the formula inserted.
Created by: 
Brian Thompson