Sanna Kramsi - I would if I could a guide to web accessibility


Glossary of some of the more common terms, acronyms, abbreviations, and the like.


Numeronym. Shorthand for "accessibility". A at the beginning, Y at the end and 11 letters in between.


Accessible Maturity Model. A self-assessment tool to help organizations benchmark their progress in all aspects of accessibility. Created by Business Disability Forum.


Accessibility Object Model. A set of APIs with the goal of allowing JavaScript developers to modify and explore the accessibility tree for a web page.

The AOM is currently under development, so it might still be changing.


An application programming interface (API) defines how communication may take place between applications.


WAI-ARIA refers to the Web Accessibility Initiative - Accessible Rich Internet Applications. It is a technical specification written by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

WAI-ARIA is a set of attributes that you can add to HTML elements. These attributes communicate role, state, and property semantics to assistive technologies via the accessibility APIs implemented in recent browsers.


The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) are a set of requirements for making authoring tools that are accessible and can produce accessible content.

Similar to WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), ATAG is published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Assistive technology

Technologies (software or hardware) that increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities when interacting with computers or computer-based systems.


  • screen readers
  • braille displays
  • magnifiers
  • text-to-speech
  • speech recognition
  • alternate keyboards (switches, sip & puff, etc.)

Content management system. A software application used to oversee the operation of web information. Common CMS applications include software like WordPress and Drupal.


Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a style sheet language used for describing the presentation of a document written in a markup language.


Official and approved wording in a specification; holds up in a court of law. In contrast to non-normative, or an informative aid that is often used in explanations or tutorials.

Conformance to a standard means that you meet or satisfy the “requirements” of the standard. A.k.a. “compliance”.


Document Object Model. The Document Object Model is a representation of the structure of a web document that provides a means for scripts such as JavaScript to manipulate the content and layout of a page.


DfA comes from Design for All. This term is used more in Europe. In the United States and Japan the term Universal Design is used more, and in the Great Britain the term Inclusive Design.

EN 301 549

European standard that specifies accessibility requirements for ICT products and services.


Hypertext Markup Language. HTML is the standard markup language used to create web pages. HTML5 is the newest version of the language with more options available to create accessible websites.


International Association of Accessibility Professionals. A global association of organizations and professionals that have joined together to define, promote, and improve the accessibility of services, products, and environments for people with disabilities.


International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) offers a certicate Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC). 


International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) offers a certicate Certified Professional in Web Accessibility (CPWA). You get the certification when you have both CPACC and WAS certificates. 


International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) offers a certicate Web Accessibility Specialist (WAS). 


Information and communications technology.


Job Access With Speech. A popular screen reader for Windows users.


One of the most used scripting languages; JavaScript is a client side programming language which can be used with almost all user agents.


Non-Visual Desktop Access. A popular screen reader for Windows users. It's license free and the software is open source.


“Non-normative” documents provide guidance and techniques for interpreting and conforming with the normative requirements, but non-normative techniques are not required for conformance.

Non-normative documents provide information about the different ways web technologies need to work with authoring tools, user agents, and assistive technologies.

Non-normative documents may change more frequently than normative documents, to adapt to changing technologies and current best practices.


“Normative” documents define accessibility practices required for conformance (to a specification).


Scalable Vector Graphics. It's a web-friendly vector file format that is often used with logos and icons.

The UN

The United Nations.


ULD comes from Universal Design for Learning. Universal Design for Learning presents a set of guidelines for designing instruction based on principles of cognitive science, that emphasizes flexibility in the presentation and demonstration of knowledge.


UX means user experience. Not to be mixed with the term usability. UX comes from usability, graphical design, interactive design, content, so it is quite a wide range of things.


The screen reader software for Apple products. It's available on iPhones, iPads, and Macs.


The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community that develops open standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web.


Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Developed through the W3C process.

The WCAG documents explain how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities.

Source material