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Accessibility Glossary of Terms

a11y
Shorthand for “accessibility” as “a” followed by 11 more letters, followed by “y”
Access Keys
An HTML attribute implemented to provide keyboard shortcuts to specific parts of a page or to follow certain links. This method is problematic due to way it can create conflicts with user agents. It can, however, offer significant advantages to users of certain types of assistive technology when attempting to interact with different levels of a user interface.
Accessibility
The inclusive practice of making usable by people with and without disabilities and give all users equal access to their content.
Active Element
An element with behaviors that may be activated or triggered through user interface or scripts, some of the most common active elements include links and element instances with scripts.
Alternative Information
Alternative information provides text equivalents for non-text content that may be inaccessible to persons with disabilities on websites such as video, audio and images.
Americans with Disabilities Act
A federal law prohibiting the discrimination against people with disabilities, enacted by the United States government in 1990.
AJAX
AJAX is an acronym for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. It’s a method to utilize the abilities of JavaScript, the Document Object Model and XML to create interactivity on the web without requiring a page refresh.
Alt Text (Alternative Text)
Alt text is used as backup text for images which do not load on a webpage. It also tells the user the nature or contents of the image and is used by screen readers to read out the descriptions of images to people with disabilities. The text must describe the content of the image like “Happy people in business meeting”
Apache
The world’s most used web server software program. The Apache web server is open source software, which has greatly helped to spread the use of the server program.
API (Application Programming Interface)
An API is a set of routines and tools for building software applications and defines how communication may take place between applications.
ARIA (Web Accessibility Initiative – Accessible Rich Internet Applications)
WAI-ARIA is a set of attributes that you can add to HTML elements. These attributes communicate role, state and property semantics to assistive technologies via the accessibility APIs implemented in recent browsers.
ARIA-live
Aria-live is an attribute for AIRA that is used to set the priority with which screen reader should treat updates to live regions – the possible settings are: off/polite/assertive where off is the default. This would be set with HTML code.
Assistive Technology
Technologies, both hardware and software, used to help increase, maintain or improve the capabilities of performing a task for a persons with disabilities. Web assistive technology includes braille keyboards, audio browsers which read web pages or alternative entry devices, screen magnifiers, alternative pointing devices, etc.
Attribute
A distinct characteristic of an object, used in SGML and XML. Elements types are often defined as having many attributes and can be integral in the accessibility of content.
Bookmarklet
A bookmarklet is a piece of JavaScript which is embedded in a browser bookmark and can be used as a shortcut to perform a wide variety of complex tasks.
Canonicalization
The process of establishing a single URL as the location of a web document. Despite being able to arrive at a particular page via multiple paths, there is only on final address resolved by the server.
CMS (Content Management System)
CMS is a software application used to oversee the operation of web information. Common CMS applications include software like WordPress and Drupal.
Color Contrast
Contrast is the perceived difference between two adjacent colors. Two colors from different segments of the color wheel are contrasting colors. For example, red is from the warm half of the color wheel and blue is from the cool half. They are contrasting colors.
Cookie
A cookie is a small text file sent to a web user’s computer by a website and can be used to identify that user to the website on their next visit to that page.
CSS
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a style sheet language used for describing the presentation of a document written in a markup language.
Disability
Any impairment, physical or mental, which can make routine tasks more difficult or limits one or more major life activity.
Discoverability
The ability of any feature to be found in the context on which it is need.
DOM (Document Object Model)
The Document Object Model is a representation of the structure of a web document which provides a means for scripts such as JavaScript to manipulate the content and layout of a page.
Document Type Definition
A short statement at the beginning of an HTML or XHTML page which informs the user agent what set of rules should be applied on a page.
Ecommerce (Electronic Commerce)
Ecommerce is the buying and selling of goods and service through digital communication.
Fieldset <fieldset>
The <fieldset> tag is used to group related elements in a form. It essentially draws a box around the related elements, making it easier to differentiate form sections.
Form <form>
The <form> tag is used to create an HTML form for user input. Forms contain all of the elements you would typically see in login forms, registration forms, and the contact us page form.
Hover State and Focus State
In CSS, a hover state is when the user moves their mouse over an element such as a button or menu item, whereas the Focus state is when a user focuses on an element using tab and enter keyboard controls.
<h1> Tag
In HTML, <h1> to <h6> tags are used to define HTML headings. <h1> defines the most important heading on each page. The only text more important than <h1> is the page title.
HTML5 (HyperText Markup Language)
HTML is the standard markup language used to create web pages. HTML5 is the newest version of the language with more options available to create accessible websites.
Input <input>
The <input> tag specifies a field where the user can enter data and are typically used within forms. An example would be the areas where you would type your email address and password to log into a website.
JavaScript
One of the most used scripting languages; JavaScript is a client side programming language which can be used with almost all user agents.
JAWS (Job Access With Speech)
JAWS is one of the most commonly used screen readers available.
Label <label>
The <label> tag provides a means of defining with the <input> element. A <label> tag will link with <input> tag, allowing the user to identify the meaning of the <input>. An example would be the text “Email Address” and “Password” beside the inputs in a login form.
Link
A link, also known as hyperlink, is text or images you can touch or click and will take you to another web page, file or section of the site.
MySQL
MySQL is an open source database software base on the SQL vocabulary which can be employed in combination with almost any server side language.
Mark-up
A mark-up is what the browser sees. If it is marked up as a link, it can receive focus and take you somewhere else.
Modal Dialogue Box
“Modal” for short.
Null alt text
Null alt text is including alt text within an “img,” but without any content. An example would be <img alt=” “>. This should only be done for decorative images, spacers and pixels.
Open Source
Open Source software is licensing model of software is a licensing model of software which gives free access to the source code of the software to allow interested parties to modify or contribute to the software as they see fit. Commonly created as collaborative projects and shared at no cost.
Perl
One of the earliest server side scripting languages. Not commonly used creating new products but remains one of the most widely supported and utilized languages.
PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor)
PHP is a general purpose server side scripting language that can be used to create a variety of different sized applications.
Rich Media
Internet technology involving interactivity animation or other special effects. A common source of accessibility issues due to the lac of alternative text on a webpage.
Radio Button
In a form, the radio button allows the user to choose only one of a set of predefined options. Whereas a checkbox allows users to choose multiple options.
Search Engine Friendly
A search engine friendly website has taken steps to guarantee there are no obstacles blocking access for web crawlers to web page content.
Search Engine Optimization
The process of making certain a website appears as high as possible on the list of results returned by a search engine, in order to maximize the volume and quality of website traffic.
Section 508
An amendment, signed into law in 1998, to the Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requiring information technology to be accessible to people with disabilities if developed or purchased by federal agencies.
Semantic Markup
Semantic Markup is the idea of creating more meaning with the information in web pages and web applications. This makes it easier for devices to understand what each aspect of the code means for the end user. HTML5 markup has be optimized to allow developers to create more semantic markup.
Server Side
Scripting which is performed on the server before a page is sent to the user agent.
Screen Reader
A type of assistive technology which uses synthetic language to read and navigate digital documents to the blind. JAWS and NVDA are two of the most commonly used.
Style
Style is what you see visually on a page using CSS.
Tab Index
Tab index is an HTML attribute which defines the order in which links should be followed when using the “tab” key to navigate a page. Without tab index specifies, links will be followed in the order for particular assistive technologies to successfully navigate a webpage.
Text-Aware
A device which is a text-aware is able to communicate information expressed in text to the user of the device. A web browser extracts text and displays it visually on a screen. A screen reader extracts text and displays it visually on a screen. A screen reader extracts and displays it as speech. Text-aware devices are significant mode of universal communication, since input format can be communicated in a variety if different output forms.
Usability
The principle that information and applications should not only be accessible but also easy to use and understand.
User Agent
The generic term used to describe any device which might access a webpage.
Web Accessibility
The principle that all web users should have equal access to information available on the internet.
WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines)
The WCAG are a set of guidelines intended to help web content authors prepare their content for use by people with disabilities and ensure equal access to websites.
Widget
A widget is a small application installed and used on websites. Each widget has varying amount of purposes. An example of a widget is a small, email newsletter signup form, or third-party live chat functionality.
XML (Extensible Markup Language)
XML is a generic format intended for maximum flexibility to provide information in a wide variety of structural formats.
XSL (Extensible Stylesheet Language)
A language that describes the formatting and presentation of XML content.

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