- In Web pages, it refers to the ability of a Web page to be viewed by everyone, especially people
with disabilities who use various assistive technologies. Accessible Web pages take into account
the special needs of visitors with auditory, visual, mobility, and cognitive impairments and give
those users an equivalent browsing experience to that of non-disabled visitors
- Americans With Disabilities Act. Bill passed in 1990 to provide equal protection and access to
public accommodations to people with a variety of disabilities including visual, auditory, mobility, and other
mental and physical health-related conditions. The bill requires that businesses with 15 or more employees
make their facilities and equipment (including information technology) accessible to the disabled. Learn
more at the Department of Justice ADA information page.
- Adaptive Technology:
- See Assistive Technology.
- Alternative Keyboard Layout:
- allows people who experience difficulty with conventional keyboard designs to use computers.
The products available range from key guards that prevent two keys from being pressed simultaneously,
to alternative keyboards with differing layouts, sizes, etc. for people who have specific needs, to
alternative input systems which require other means/methods of getting information into a computer.
- Alternative Mouse System:
- Alternative pointing devices are used to replace the mouse. Includes trackballs and other pointing devices.
- Alternative Text (ALT Text):
- Descriptive text included in IMG tags that appears when the mouse is held over the image. The text
should provide a concise alternative description of the image or image map that will make sense when
heard through a screen reader.
Include ALT text in your code like this:
<img src="robot-image.gif" alt="Old NetMechanic Robot Logo!">
- Assistive Technology:
- As defined by the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, the term refers to "any item, piece of equipment, or
product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain,
or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities."
Assistive technologies include: screen readers and magnifiers, closed
captioning, alternative keyboards, and other special software and equipment
that makes information devices more accessible. Also referred to as
- Assistive Technology Act of 1998 (ATA):
- Provided funding to all 50 U.S states and 6 Territories to continue the activities involved in
the Technology-Related Assistance Act of 1988. Helps states develop permanent, comprehensive, statewide
programs of technology-related assistance.
Under the ATA, all states and territories are eligible to receive funding for 10 years. States that have
completed 10 years in the program will have 3 additional years of federal funding to continue their assistive
- Auditory Impairment:
- Conditions where people are completely deaf or hard of hearing. They require visual representations
(captions or transcripts) of information contained in audio files.
- Assistive technology for blind and visually impaired people that uses 6 raised dots grouped in different
patterns to represent letters and numbers. People read Braille by running their fingertips across the dots.
Some screen readers also output content in Braille format using a Braille display. Learn more at
the Braille Institute Web site.
- Braille Display:
- Assistive technology that raises or lowers dot patterns based on input from an electronic device
such as a screen reader or text browser.
- Software package available for use online or through download that evaluates Web pages for
accessibility mainly to visually impaired users. Sites that pass are entitled to display the "Bobby
Approved" icon. However, that icon does not mean that those sites also comply with all of Section 508's
accessibility requirements. Download Bobby at
the Bobby Web site.
- A text transcript of the audio portion of a video file that synchronizes the text to the action
contained in the video.
- Cognitive Impairments:
- Conditions that cause people to understand and process information more slowly than average. These people may
require information to be presented in multiple formats (see and hear it for example) before they completely
understand it. See also: Learning Disabilities
- The most widely used screen reader. Download an evaluation copy at the Freedom Scientific Web site.
- Learning Disabilities:
- Conditions that cause people to understand and process information more slowly than average. These people
may require information to be presented in multiple formats (see and hear it for example) before they completely
- Table rendering process used by some screen readers and text browsers that converts table cells into a
series of paragraphs that will be read one after the other in the order they are defined in the HTML code.
- Linearized Table:
- A table that has been subjected to linearization. Depending on page layout, some Web pages may be extremely
hard to decipher after their tables have been linearized. Read the content of your table cells sequentially
to make sure that they make sense after linearization.
- Media Access Generator. Tool that allows Web authors to add captions to three multimedia formats: Apple's
QuickTime, the World Wide Web Consortium's Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) and Microsoft's
Synchronized Accessible Media Interchange (SAMI) format. MAGpie can also integrate audio descriptions into SMIL
- Mobility Impairments:
- Physical impairments that limit movement and fine motor controls like walking, lifting, or using a mouse or
keyboard. People with physical impairments often require adaptive or assistive technologies to use computers or
navigate through Web sites.
- Non-text Equivalent:
- Content provided through audio files, sign language, or other visual means to convey information to people
with visual or cognitive disabilities.
- Rehabilitation Act of 1973:
- Congressional act designed to foster economic independence for people
with disabilities. Authorized grants to states for vocational and other
- Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1993:
- Amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and 1986 to Workforce Investment
Partnership Act of 1998 establish a coordinated system of Federal aid
programs for vocational education, adult education, and job training at
State and local levels.
- Screen Magnifier:
- Software program that magnifies all or part of a computer screen
to make the content visible to users with visual impairments.
- Screen Reader:
- Software that reads the content of a computer screen aloud. Screen readers can only interpret text content,
so all graphic and multimedia must have alternative text descriptions using ALT text, captions, transcripts, or
- Section 508
- Section 508 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which requires that electronic and information
technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the Federal government be accessible to people with
disabilities. On August 7, 1998, the President signed into law the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which
includes the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. Section 508 was originally added to the Rehabilitation Act
in 1986; the 1998 amendments significantly expand and strengthen the technology access requirements in Section
508. Learn more about Section 508 from
the Federal Access Board.
States that receive funding under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998 must comply with Section 508 guidelines.
- Text Equivalent:
- Text content that describes information on the screen that's contained in graphic, Flash, or other multimedia
files. Text equivalent is often provided using captions, ALT text, or transcripts. The alternate text must convey
the same function or purpose for the user with a disability as the non-text content does for others.
- Text To Speech Software:
- Text-to-Speech software is used to convert words from a computer document (e.g. word processor document, web page)
into audible speech spoken through the computer speaker. This differs from screen reader technology because
it doesn't read any system information or alternative text descriptions.
- Text Transcript:
- A text description of information contained in audio files.
- Refers to design features that make a product user friendly. For instance, Web sites with usability problems
could be hard to navigate, difficult for disabled people to use, or have unclear instructions for use.
- Visual Impairment:
- Refers to conditions where people are blind, color blind, or have reduced vision capabilities. Often, these
people will use assistive technologies like screen readers or magnifiers to help them use computers and navigate
through Web sites.
- Voice Browser:
- A device that interprets voice markup languages to generate voice output and interpret voice input.
Their most common use allows users to access the Internet using a telephone.
- Voice Recognition:
- A device that allows a user to use his/her voice as an input device. Use it to dictate text into the computer or
give commands to open files, save them, etc.
- Web Accessibility Initiative, affiliated with the World
Wide Web Consortium. Coordinates with organizations around the world to increase the accessibility of the Web
through five primary areas of work: technology, guidelines, tools, education and outreach, and research and