Understanding the Language

A definition list of commonly used terms is provided below. The terms identified here may be used throughout the guidelines and checklists, and are also offered here to provide some introductory description, especially for those who are new to working with technology for people with disabilities.

Adaptive Technology – also known as assistive technology. Defines a wide variety of electronic items, often computer based, that enables an even wider variety of people with disabilities to live independently. Adaptive Technology is available to help people with the following disabilities:

Blind & Low Vision – applies to people who are legally blind or have a limited amount of usable vision that cannot be corrected with eyeglasses.

Synthesized Speech – a computerized, artificial presentation of human speech.

Voice Output – technology that utilizes synthesized speech to read text and describe visual elements.

Screen Magnifier – can be either hardware or software that enlarges the display of a computer monitor. Some popular software examples include Microsoft’s Magnifier, Zoomtext by Ai Squared and Magic by Freedom Scientific.

Screen Reader – software that provides voice output for items displayed on a computer screen. Some popular screen reader’s include JAWS by Freedom Scientific and Window Eyes by GW Micro.

Text-to-Speech (TTS) – the process of converting text into synthesized speech.

Physical and Mobility Impairment – applies to people who have a limited ranged of motion, or have a difficult time using their arms, hands, legs, or feet.

Augmented Keyboard – a keyboard that has been changed to help someone who cannot use a traditional keyboard. Examples include ergonomic keyboards, enlarged keys keyboards, micro-keyboards, and onscreen keyboards.

Joystick – an alternative point-and-click device for those who cannot grasp a mouse that includes a variety of handles, such as a joystick knob, t-handle, or ball handle to move the cursor around a computer display. Mouse button functions may also be accessible through the joystick.

Trackball – an alternative point-and-click device equipped with a ball used to navigate the cursor arrow for those who cannot grasp a mouse. Mouse functions may be accessible through the trackball.

Touchpad – an alternative point-and-click device found in many notebook computers where a sensor pad can be used to control the movement of the cursor arrow on a computer screen.

Switches – input devices that allow users with a limited range of motion or quadriplegic to enter input into the computer, such as mouse clicks. Examples include button, jellybean, head and neck switches, and sip and puff switches.

Head Tracking System – also known as an eye-gazing system. This system employs a camera that detects a sensor placed on a user’s forehead. When the camera tracks any head and neck movement, the cursor arrow then moves accordingly on the computer screen, allowing users hands-free navigation of the computer. Can be used along with switches and an onscreen keyboard.

Language and Learning Disablities – applies to any of various conditions (such as dyslexia) that interfere with an individual's ability to learn caused by difficulties in processing and integrating information.

Learning Systems Software – software that contains tools to assist with reading and composition. Tools include text- to-speech reading, word prediction, thesaurus, pronunciation, homonym checker, etc. Examples include Kurzweil 3000, Read & Write Gold, and WYNN by Freedom Scientific.

People Who Are Deaf or Hearing Impaired

Internet Relay Services – communication system for people who are deaf or hearing impaired using the Internet. Examples include instant messaging (IM), video relay, Web-based relay (AT&T, IP-Relay, etc.), captioned Internet conference and phone calls.

People Who Are Speech Impaired – applies to anyone who cannot speak or has difficulty speaking or being understood. Computers equipped with speech synthesis and text messaging can be used to assist people with speech impairments.

United States Access Board - an independent Federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities. Created in 1973 to ensure access to federally funded facilities, the Board is now a leading source of information on accessible design. The Board develops and maintains design criteria for the built environment, transit vehicles, telecommunications equipment, and for electronic and information technology. It also provides technical assistance and training on these requirements and on accessible design and continues to enforce accessibility standards that cover federally funded facilities. http://www.access-board.gov

Section 508 - in 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an individual's ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. ‘ 794d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to the access available to others. http://www.section508.gov

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) - works with organizations around the world to develop strategies, guidelines, and resources to help make the Web accessible to people with disabilities. http://www.w3c.org/wai

Information Technology - any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment, that is used in the automatic acquisition, storage, manipulation, management, movement, control, display, switching, interchange, transmission, or reception of data or information. The term information technology includes computers, ancillary equipment, software, firmware and similar procedures, services (including support services), and related resources. http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/standards.htm

Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) - includes information technology and any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment, that is used in the creation, conversion, or duplication of data or information. The term electronic and information technology includes, but is not limited to telecommunications products (such as telephones), information kiosks and transaction machines, World Wide Web sites, multimedia, and office equipment such as copiers and fax machines. http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/standards.htm

Alternate formats - alternate formats usable by people with disabilities may include, but are not limited to, Braille, ASCII text, large print, recorded audio, and electronic formats that comply with this part. http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/standards.htm

Alternate methods - different means of providing information, including product documentation, to people with disabilities. Alternate methods may include, but are not limited to, voice, fax, relay service, TTY, Internet posting, captioning, text-to-speech synthesis, and audio description. http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/standards.htm