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Accessibility Glossary

Accessible – Reachable; able to enter and to use.

Accommodate – “to provide with something desired, needed or suited.” Merriam Webster Online

Americans with Disabilities Act – (ADA) – A federal law prohibiting discrimination against people with physical or mental disabilities.

Assistive Devices – Devices that help people perform a task. Many assistive devices have been designed for people with disabilities, including devices that help people use technology.

Audio – relating to sound and the reproduction of sound.

Authoring Tool – Authoring tools can assist in the creation of “accessible Web content through prompts, alerts, check and repair functions, help files and automated tools.”

Captioned telephone – A telephone that changes spoken words to text on a screen. This is now available via the Internet.

Closed Caption –Text that enables hearing-impaired people to follow audio. The captions do not appear on the screen unless a decoder is used. Many television sets offer closed captions.

Cognitive – relating to mental activities; knowing.

Contrast – Difference between shades of color. Clear distinctions between colors can be important to people with low vision.

DAISY – Digital Accessible Information System – “Daisy is a globally recognized, open technical standard to facilitate the creation of accessible content. In current practice, these documents are Digital Talking Books, digital text books, or a combination of synchronized audio and text books.

Disability – A physical or mental impairment that can make it difficult to carry on certain activities.

HTML – Hypertext Markup Language – The coding language for documents for the Web. It is text-based, supports links to other files on the Web. They can be viewed with a web browser.

Motor disabilities – Difficulty with movement because of problems with the nerves that enable movement of a muscle.

Open Caption – Text on a screen that is not hidden from view.

Open Standard – A standard for Web site development that can be used by all. Standards can be improved and changed, though this process is usually managed by standards organizations such as the Internet Society or the World Wide Web Consortium.

PDF File –Stands for Portable Document Format – A file that supports viewing and reading type, graphics, layout, that will be the same on all operating systems.

PSTS – Public Switched Telephone System – The landline telephone system, which is largely analog.

RSI or Repetitive Stress Injuries – Overuse of muscles, tendons or nerves. Carpal tunnel syndrome is an example.

Refreshable Braille display – These displays are electronic devices that are used to read text that a computer sends to the monitor. The device is connected to the computer by a serial cable and produces Braille output on the Braille display.

Screen reader – Is primarily useful for people who are blind. These aids make on-screen information available as synthesized speech or a refreshable Braille display.

Section 508 – A federal law requiring that government electronic and information technology be available to federal employees and the public with disabilities. The use and access must be as good as that for those who not disabled unless the requirement is an “undue burden”.

Telecommunications Relay Service – Starting in 1993, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission required telephone companies to offer the Telecommunications Relay Service, to comply with the ADA. People who are deaf or hearing-impaired, speech-disabled or deaf and blind can reach an operator by dialing 711. The operator can type messages from those who hear to those who are deaf. Those who are deaf can use a TTY to communicate with the operator, who then gives the message to the hearing person by voice. Most TRS calls are completed by PSTS, or the analog telephone network.

Universal design – Products and environments designed to be usable by the greatest number of people, regardless of age or ability.

United States Access Board – The Access Board is an independent federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities. The Board develops and maintains design criteria for built environments, transit vehicles, telecommunications equipment and for electronic and information technology.

Web content – the information in a web page or web application, including:

  • Information such as text, images and sounds
  • Code or markup that defines structure, presentation