Accessibility Guide: Glossary

Accessibility Guide: Glossary

Accessible /Accessibility:

Accessible and accessibility refer to the ability of disabled users to participate or engage in environments or with materials as non-disabled peers would. Refers to buildings or environment, material (documents), and electronic media such as audio visual materials as well as web content.


A modification or adjustment that enables an individual with a disability to access and participate in training, employment or other activity.

Alternative Text:

Description of picture or graph which communicates the meaning of the graphic. For more information see Accessibility Guide Images and Graphs

Alternative Format:

"Alternate format is medium and/or methodology that allows people with disabilities to access information in a manner other than how the format was originally delivered." - WebAim

Alternate format and alternative format are interchangeable.

Assistive Technology (AT):

Assistive technology is any device that is “Any item, piece of equipment, or system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is commonly used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.”- US Accessboard Can be as low cost and simple as a chart or box to organize medication or expensive or complex as an electric wheel chair or screen reader.

Deaf or deaf:

There are occasions where you will see "Deaf" or "deaf". The reason for this is that "Deaf" denotes an individual who is "culturally Deaf" where "deaf" refers to the hearing impairment only.


The American's With Disabilities Act defines disability as a "physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities..a record of such an impairment...or being regarded as having such an impairment.

Screen Reader:

See Text to Speech, below

Screen Magnifier:

Software that enlarges a screen so an individual with a visual impairment can view it at desired resolution. Many also allow the user to change the color scheme for better clarity.

Text to Speech:

Software that converts electronic text to synthesized speech. Primarily designed for those with visual impairments and print disabilities. Text to speech software reads from left to right, including tables. Many have the ability to navigate a document based on headings created using Styles (see below). Text to Speech software is sometimes known as a screen reader.

Speech to Text:

Software that converts spoken words into printed text. Allows those with a variety of impairments to “type” and perform various actions on screen without the use of a keyboard or mouse.

Styles (aka Style and Formatting):

A feature in Microsoft Word that will create headers and other formatting consistently across a document. Using Style Improves readability and accessibility for sighted and visually impaired individuals. For more information See Accessibility Guide's Word Documents. Website equivalent is known as semantic markup, see Web Accessibility Content Guidelines 1.3.1 for more information


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