Web Accessibility Glossary of Terms

Web Accessibility Glossary of Terms

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Common Web Accessibility Terms and Definitions

If you are in need of a quick reference for common terms regarding Web Accessibility, this should be helpful. Perhaps you are interested in learning more about accessibility or are in need of assistance. Please feel free to reach out to AKEA Web Solutions if that is the case.

508 (also known as Section 508)

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act was enacted in 1998 to eliminate barriers in information technology. It was established to provide new opportunities for people with disabilities and to enhance development of technologies that will help accomplish these goals. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. § 794d), federal agencies are required to give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is equal to the access available to others.

Accelerator Keys

Combinations of characters that grant users the ability to make software commands without needing to interact with menu options or keyboard shortcuts.

Accessibility

The idea that people with disabilities are able to have access to and use a system with the help of assistive technologies. For example, when designing an “accessible website”, the ability to utilize screen reader software for those who are unable to read the fixed font due to blindness or low-vision is a key requirement.

Accommodation

A means or method designed to aid users with disabilities, in cases where the application of accessibility guidelines are neither achievable nor practical. Non-anticipated adaptations are what makes accommodations ideal.

Alternative Text

Short text that usually consists of 125 characters or less to describe images.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

A civil rights law enacted in 1990 to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life, including schools, transportation, jobs and all public and privates places open to the general public. Its purpose is to provide equal opportunities to people with disabilities. Refer also to https://www.ada.gov/.

ARIA Attributes

Special attributes that support assistive technologies with interpreting powerful content and advanced user interface controls developed with JavaScript, HTML, Ajax and related technologies.

Assistive Technologies

Software or hardware technologies that boost, maintain, or enhance the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities when interacting with computers or computer-based systems. An example would be screen reader software.

Audio Browsers

Implementing a text-to-speech capability for the blind and visually impaired within a web browser.

Braille Terminal

Machines that convert screen text to braille by raising bumps through holes on a flat surface. Braille is used for the blind and visually impaired.

Captions

A textual depiction of sounds on a television program or movie. Captions are displayed in real time and are provided to aid the hearing impaired.

Clickability Cues

A visual suggestion that a given item or word on a web page is clickable. Signs that can be used to indicate the clickability of an item include bullets, underlining, color and arrows.

Contrast Ratio

The visual difference between two colors is expressed mathematically through a measurement. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA require a contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for larger text.

Disability

The term disability varies widely in its definition depending on social or medical perspectives. Overall the condition limits a person’s movement, senses, or activities.

Examples of common disabilities include:

  • Auditory impairments, such as hearing loss or deafness.
  • Cognitive disabilities which limit a person’s ability to process, understand and remember content, including Dyslexia, Autism and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD).
  • Motor impairments that affect manual dexterity, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Arthritis and other conditions that cause tremors, including Parkinson’s Disease.
  • Physical impairments that severely prevent the use of hands, such as Cerebral Palsy, Paralysis, or Congenital Limb Abnormalities.
  • Visual impairments which limit or prevent sight, including blindness, color blindness, low vision and impaired field of vision.

Early Adopters

When a user consistently grasps new technology before the majority.

Electronic Information Technology (EIT)

Information technology and any equipment or interconnected system that is used to convert, create, or duplicate information or data.

Graceful Degradation

The utilization of new technology on a website; when disabled, users are still able to access content as a result of its effectiveness.

Heat Maps

Color-based representations of areas of interest. Heat maps are generally associated with eye-tracking software.

Internationalization

A system which provides for multiple languages and cultural contexts of different locales to be worked into its development.

Late Adopters

Individuals who have hesitancy to adopt updated technology.

Localization

Product for a local market that is personalized and customized nationally and internationally.

Long Descriptions

Descriptions that are written for complex figures and identified via the long description attribute. These are not currently supported by most web browsers; however, the long description attribute feature is planned for the next iteration of Firefox.

Luminance Contrast Ratio

The difference between foreground and background is measured with specific minimal values, which are recommended by WCAG 2.1.

Media Provider

The location in which videos are stored or streamed. Examples include YouTube, Warpwire, Vimeo and Panopto.

Multimedia Production

When more than one sensory channel is included within a production, such as, video and audio.

Production

The end result, following the producing of a video or multimedia presentation. This is clear-cut from multimedia ‘raw footage’ captured in preparation of a final production.

Programmatic Focus

The computer’s focal point on a web page.

Screen Reader

A software program that grants reading of content and navigation of the screen using Braille output or speech. It is mainly used by people who have vision impairments. Examples include NVDA and JAWS.

Standards

These include a set of requirements, characteristics, specifications, or guidelines that are used to measure processes, products and services. In order to achieve compliance, certain standards must be met. Standards can be required by a customer despite no legal requirement adhering to them.

Transcript

The text only version of what’s verbally spoken in a television program or movie. Transcripts are not provided in real time; they are limited to speech only and are not a substitution for captions.

Universal Design

Products and environments that are able to be used by all people, thanks to its design. These designs do not require specialized adaptations.

Usability

Refers to how easily, efficiently and effectively people, including those with disabilities, can utilize a system or product to obtain their goals. The definition also takes into account the user experience, which covers a more instinctive quality of gratification.

Video Production

Both visual and auditory information is delivered on a videotape through multimedia production.

Visual Focus

The location in which a user’s focus is on a web page. It is often expressed through a dashed box surrounding items on a page.

Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT)

A VPAT is a document explaining how technology, complies with Section 508 standards.   Refer also to the Section 508 website for more on VPATs.

Voice Recognition

A software program that allows a computer to accept voice commands without the need of a keyboard or mouse.

Web Accessibility

When people with disabilities are able to independently acquire the same information, engage and appreciate the same services, within the same interval as people without disabilities. Web accessibility requires a person with a disability to have equal access to the information on a website.

Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE Toolbar)

A free browser based tool to assist content creators, web developers and designers evaluate a website for accessibility and compliance standards with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Download the WAVE Toolbar.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1)

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 primary focus is on providing an technical standard for web content internationally. Twelve guidelines are included within the standards and are organized under four principles: perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. Testable success criteria are included within the guidelines and are classified at three levels: A, AA and AAA.

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community that establishes open standards to protect the long-term growth of the web.

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