Information Technology Systems and Services.
ITSS home

Web Design References

Web Design Glossary

abbr Element
In HTML the title attribute can be used in conjunction with abbr element to give the long form of an abbreviation, allowing screen readers to speak the full word or phrase. Use of the abbr element is part of the University of Minnesota Web Accessibility Standards because screen-readers sometimes attempt to pronounce abbreviations. It is also in WCAG (priority 3). Example markup: <abbr title="University of Minnesota Duluth">UMD</abbr> For more information consult Abbreviations & Acronyms.
Accessibility (Web)
Web accessibility refers to web information/content being obtainable and functional to people with disabilities. It is about providing access to information for those who would otherwise lose their opportunity to use the web. In contrast inaccessible means unobtainable, nonfunctional.
Accessibility Supported
An accessibility supported technology means that it works with assistive technologies and the accessibility features of operating systems, browsers and other user agents.
accesskey attribute
An accesskey is an HTML attribute. It is meant to help users who navigating without a pointing device, such as a mouse. Access keys are intended to be a means of specifying a keyboard shortcut for moving to a link.
Adaptive Technology
Sometimes known as assistive technology. It is software or hardware that has been specifically designed to assist people with disabilities in carrying out daily activities. Assistive technology includes wheelchairs, reading machines, devices for grasping, etc. In the area of Web Accessibility, common software-based assistive technologies include screen readers, screen magnifiers, speech synthesizers, and voice input software that operate in conjunction with graphical desktop browsers (among other user agents). Hardware assistive technologies include alternative keyboards and pointing devices.
Affinity Diagram
Affinity diagramming is a categorization method where users sort various concepts into several categories. This usability method is used by a team to organize a large amount of data according to the natural relationships between the items. Basically, you write each concept on a Post-It note and tack them onto a wall. Team members move the notes to groups based on how they feel the concept belongs with other concepts. For more information consult Affinity Diagrams.
AJAX
AJAX stands for or Asynchronous Javascript and XML. It's a way to utilize the abilities of Javascript, the Document Object Model, and XML to create interactivity on the web. For more information consult AJAX (Asynchronous JAvaScript + XML or Asynchronous JAvascript using XMLHttpRequest).
alt Attribute
An alt attribute is used to provide equivalent content for those who cannot process images or who have image loading disabled. That means that it serves the same function as an image. Users of screen readers or other devices cannot directly access images. Similarly, some users choose to turn image loading off- especially those with slower connections. These users rely on alt attributes to obtain content.
alt Tag
The term "alt tag" is sometimes incorrectly used instead of the correct term " alt attribute". In HTML their is no such thing as an "alt tag". Technically, tags are things like <p> or </p> that you use to mark up your page and the alt attribute sits inside a tag, like this: <img alt="">. Calling an attribute a tag is a common mistake.
alt Text
Alt text is generally a phrase or short sentence that forms the content of the alt attribute. It is contained within the quotation marks: <img alt="">. This simple idea has great power as good alt text can help make a web site accessible to people with disabilities. While there is no official restriction on the length of alt text, it should be terse. Many experts recommend 125 or fewer characters.
Alternate Style Sheet
These style sheets can be selected by the visitor as alternatives to the preferred style sheet. This allows the visitor to personalize a site and choose his or her favorite scheme. They can also be used for accessibility (larger fonts etc).
Alternative Interface Access Protocol (AIAP)
A technology under development by the National Committee on Information Technology; it will allow a user to get web pages in the form they choose for the device they choose.
Americans with Disabilities Act
United States public law enacted in 1990 guaranteeing rights for people with disabilities. This law mandates reasonable accommodation and effective communication.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
A fatal, neuromuscular disease that causes rapid deterioration of minor cells in the brain and spinal cord, ultimately leading to impairment of mobility, speech, and respiratory functions. It is more commonly known as Lou Gerhig's disease.
Anti-alias
Anti-alias is a feature used to smooth out jagged edges of an electronic graphic image.
API
API stands for Application Programming Interface. It a provides set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. For more information consult: Application programming interface.
Applet
A Java program or application designed to be embedded in, and invoked from, a web page, or other application. It cannot be run by itself.
A-Prompt (Accessibility Prompt)
A tool developed to assist Web authors in improving the accessibility and usability of HTML documents. It is made available through a joint collaboration between the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre at the University of Toronto and the TRACE Center at the University of Wisconsin. Although it's free, it's currently only available for the Windows platform. For more information consult the A-Prompt site.
ARIA
ARIA stands for Accessible Rich Internet Applications. It is a bridging technology that can help make web applications more accessible to a diverse range of users, including those who use assistive technologies. It adds semantics for role, state, and functionality of interface controls, such as menus, sliders, trees, and dialogs as well as structural information for landmarks, regions, and grids. For more information consult WAI-ARIA.
Array
In programming, an array is an indexed collection of data values. For instance in PHP, and array is a container for a number of variables which all have the same name, but each has a different index. Each member of the array is called an element. You can create arrays in the same way you create variables, as long as you remember to put square brackets around them to denote the index. By default, arrays are zero-based, that is, the first element of the array has an index of zero.
Assignment Operator
In programming, assignment operators assign a value to a variable. The equal sign is the most common assignment operator.
Assistive Technology
Sometimes known as adaptive technology. It is equipment or software that assists people with disabilities in performing every day activities. Examples include screen readers and voice input software.
Attribute
In HTML an attribute is a characteristic of an element.
Audio Description
An audio description is narration, spoken out loud. It explains visual details. This allows visual content to be accessible to the blind or those with vision impairments. Audio descriptions of visual content is important if, for example, a video provides content that is relevant to the overall understanding of the video but is not available/ recognized through the default audio already present. For example an audio description can take a movie, and talk you through it. The narrator tells you what is happening on the screen what you can not figure out just from the soundtrack.
Authoring Tool
A software application used to create web pages and web sites.