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Accessibility Terms Defined

As you begin to explore our accessibility resources, you may encounter some terms that are unfamiliar to you. Below are definitions of some common accessibility terms. 

Accessibility refers to the ability of individuals with disabilities to access and use products and systems.

Alternative text is a description of an image. Without descriptive text, individuals with vision impairments may not be aware of what images are included in a webpage or document.

Assistive technologies are technologies and devices that increase, maintain or improve the ability of individuals with disability to use computers and computer-based systems. Examples include a head or foot mouse, speech recognition software, and screen-reading software.

Audio Browsers are web browsers with text-to-speech capability for individuals with vision impairments.

Braille terminals are machines that convert text on a screen to braille by raising bumps through holes on a flat surface.

Captions are real-time textual representations of sounds, such as dialogue in videos.

Color contrast is a measure of the difference in perceived “luminance,” or brightness, between two colors. The measure of the difference between foreground and background colors is referred to as the luminance contrast ratio. WCAG 2.0 specifies minimal ratio values.

Disabilities are physical or mental impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities, including, but is not limited to, walking, talking, seeing, hearing, learning, working, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating.  Examples of common disabilities include the following.

  • Auditory, or hearing, impairments
  • Visual impairments, such as blindness, color blindness, low vision, and impaired field of vision
  • Cognitive disabilities that impair an individual’s ability to process, understand, and remember on-screen content, such as dyslexia, autism, and attention deficit disorder
  • Physical impairments that affect manual dexterity, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, arthritis, and conditions that cause tremors
  • Physical impairments that severely limit or prevent the use of the hands

Electronic Information Resources (EIR) are technologies that provide access to information through telecommunications, with a focus on communication technologies (e.g. website content and multimedia).

Texas law defines EIR, in part, as "information technology and any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment used to create, convert, duplicate, store, or deliver data or information." See the full definition from the Texas Administrative Code (TAC) 213.

Screen readers are software programs that allow individuals who are visually impaired to read the text that is displayed on a computer screen with a speech synthesizer or braille display.

Tags are markers that establish a logical reader order for screen readers and other assistive technology.

Transcripts are text versions of what is said in a movie, TV series, or video. Transcripts are not a recommended substitutes for captions because they are generally limited to speech and are not generated in real time.

Usability refers to how easily, effectively, and efficiently individuals can use a product and how satisfied they are with the experience of using a product. User experience is a term used to describe a more subjective quality of enjoyment.

Voice Recognition (also called Speech Recognition) is a software application that enables a computer to accept voice commands, thereby requiring little or no use of the keyboard and mouse.

WCAG 2.0 stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. WCAG 2.0 provides an international technical standard for web content. It has 12 guidelines that are organized under four principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. The guidelines each have a testable success criteria, which are at three levels: A, AA, and AAA.

WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) means that the display of a word processing or desktop publishing application simulates the appearance and represents the effect of fonts and line breaks on the final pagination.