Accessibility concepts and terms

The following concepts and terms are often used when talking about accessibility. If you have any questions about any of the terms or would like to discuss further, please contact the Instructional Design Team.

  • Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA)

    Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) is a set of attributes that define ways to make web content and web applications (especially those developed with JavaScript) more accessible to people with disabilities. It supplements HTML so that interactions and widgets commonly used in web applications can be passed to assistive technologies.

  • Accessibility

    Being able to obtain and/or use something independently without modifications; In the context of educational materials there is direct, unassisted access and indirect access, which is provided via assistive technologies. Accessible products, procedures, services, and environments have had barriers to education or training removed so that the user doesn't require an assistant or redesigning the functionality.

    Example: A blind person can use a screen reader to navigate an accessible website independently.

  • Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR)

    The VPAT has come to be viewed by the wider procurement community as an accessibility conformance report or ACR – and will sometimes be referred to with this terminology. Occasionally, the two terms will be used together “an Accessibility Conformance Report based on VPAT 2.0.”

  • Accomodation

    An accommodation involves modifying content to enable using an alternate ability to acquire what is needed or to perform a task. Barriers that result in a disability are removed through the alternative mode of access. In an educational context, an accommodation changes how a student learns. Accommodations don't make things easier for students, they just make things fair.

    Example: Extending the time limit for a timed exam to provide more time for those using a screen reader.

  • Alt Text

    Also known as alternative text, alt text is a brief description that can be added to a webpage or document to tell user the nature or contents of an image. It is used by screen readers to help visual impaired experience the content included in the image.

  • Audio Description

    Audio description enables individuals who are blind or have low vision to hear a spoken narration of a video’s key visual elements, including, but not limited to, the action, settings, facial expressions, costumes, and scene changes. Audio description supplements the regular audio track of a video and is usually added during existing pauses in dialogue.

  • Closed Captions

    Captions are generally designed for those who are Deaf or hard of hearing and tend to include both speech and non-speech elements in the videos e.g. coughs, music, dogs barking, etc. Closed captions can be turned on/off by the viewer and are a separate file from the video itself.

  • Disability

    A disability describes an inability to perform a task because of an impairment or a social reaction to an individual's attempt to perform a task. In a more specific, academic context, a learning disability refers to situations where someone with an impairment experiences conditions that interfere with academic success.

    Example: A person in a wheelchair is prevented from accessing the second floor because there is only stair access

  • Equally Effective Alternative Access Plan (EEAAP)

    An Equally Effective Alternative Access Plan (EEAAP) is a proactive, documented process that describes how an instructor, program or unit will address problems resulting from inaccessible or partially accessible technologies. The EEAAP identifies who is accountable for providing alternative access and what supports they will provide to affected users.

  • Equity

    Having attributes of fairness and impartiality. In the context of accessibility, equity means providing a comparable experience to support the educational experience of all learners. The experience may not be exactly the same for all users (i.e. not equal yet equitable), but the efficacy isn't biased toward one method of acquiring the same knowledge.

    Example: A user with limited vision may use text-to-speech software for assistance with a required reading.

  • Information & Communications Technology (ICT)

    ICT refers to technologies that provide access to information through telecommunications. It is similar to Information Technology (IT), but focuses primarily on communication technologies. This includes the Internet, wireless networks, cell phones, and other communication mediums.

  • Open Captions

    Captions are generally designed for those who are Deaf or hard of hearing and tend to include both speech and non-speech elements in the videos e.g. coughs, music, dogs barking, etc. Open captions are incorporated directly into the video file and therefore cannot be turned on/off by the viewer.

  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

    Optical Character Recognition, or OCR, refers to technology that enables you to convert documents, such as scanned paper documents, PDF files or images captured by a digital camera into editable and searchable text.

  • Subtitles

    Subtitles are generally designed for viewers who can hear the audio in the video but do not understand the languages (e.g. foreign films). Subtitles only contain the dialogue of the video.

  • Universal Design

    Universal Design for Learning, or UDL, is a set of principles for curriculum development that gives all students an equal opportunity to learn. It provides a blueprint for creating flexible instruction that can be customized to meet individual needs. The three principles of UDL are engagement, representation, and action/expression

  • Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT)

    A Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is a document that explains how information and communication technology (ICT) products such as software, hardware, electronic content, and support documentation conform to the Revised 508 Standards for IT accessibility.

  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

    The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are developed through the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally.