It was only after doing front-end development for a few years that I first learned about web accessibility. I remember hearing terms such as 'focus management' and 'inclusive design' and not really being sure what they meant.
In this post, I've compiled a list of terms which I wish I would have been aware of earlier on in my career. For each term I've linked out to a suitable resource to find out more information. Hopefully this might help somebody else who is starting out with web accessibility.
For an exhaustive list of accessibility terms see the W3C glossary.
- Accessible name
- Many HTML elements have an accessible name, this is used by Assistive Technologies (AT) to identify the element. For example, a menu button might have an accessible name of 'open menu'. See: what is an accessible name?.
- Accessibility tree
- Browsers create an accessibility tree based on the DOM tree. The accessibility tree is used by assistive technologies (such as screen readers) to present information to the user. See: accessibility tree.
- Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) is a set of attributes that define ways to make web content and web applications more accessible to people with disabilities. An example might be
aria-hiddenwhich would hide an element from assistive technology. See: introduction to ARIA.
- Assistive Technology
- Assistive technology (AT) is a generic term that describes tools used by people with disabilities to accomplish tasks such as screen readers, screen magnification software, text readers, speech input software or alternative input devices. See: types of assistive technology.
- Colour Contrast
- Colour contrast is the difference in light between font (or anything in the foreground) and its background. Good colour contrast is imporant to ensure users with visual disabilities can perceive content on the page. See: contrast and colour accessibility.
- Focus happens when a control (e.g. an input item such as a field, checkbox, button, or link) receives input from the keyboard. A focused item is often indicated by a focus ring. See: introduction to focus.
- Focus Management
- For many complex interactions and custom widgets it may be necessary to manually manage focus via scripting. For example, when a modal is launched, focus must manually be moved to within the modal. See: managing focus.
- Heading Hierarchy
- Headings create an outline for the page, similar to a term paper outline or table of contents. Headings should represent increasing degrees of indentation (e.g
<h2>). Each page should have one
<h1>heading, and heading levels should not be skipped (e.g. going from
<h4>). See: headings.
- Inclusive Design
- Inclusive design means designing websites, applications, browsers, tools, and every other digital product minding everyone who is permanently or temporarily disabled. See: inclusive design - making websites accessibile to everyone.
- Screen reader
- A screen reader is a software application that enables people with severe visual impairments to use a computer. Screen readers work closely with the computer’s Operating System (OS) to provide information about icons, menus, dialogue boxes, files and folders. See: what is a screen reader.
- Skip link
- Skip links are internal page links which aid navigation around the current page, rather than to completely new pages. They are mainly used by screen reader users for bypassing or 'skipping' over repetitive web page content. See: what are skip links.
- Switch device
- A switch is an assistive technology primarily used by people with motor impairments to access and control computers, smartphones, electric wheelchairs, smart home appliances and more. See: the switch.
- The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is developed through the W3C with a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally. See: WCAG specification.
- Web accessibility
- Accessibility on the web (A11y) means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. See: Introduction to web accessibility.