Accessibility Abbreviations and Acronyms
So. Many. TLAs (Three Lettered Acronyms). This guide may help demystify some of it.
ACA: Affordable Care Act or Accessible Canada Act depending on context. “The ACA must comply with the ADA not the ACA” is actually a legit sentence.
ACR: Accessibility Conformance Report. VPATs are now part of ACRs.
ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act. NOTE: No apostrophe, Americans is plural, not possessive.
AG: Accessibility Guidelines, otherwise known as “Silver” (think: periodic table / high school chemistry). The next evolutionary step in WCAG.
A11Y: There are 11 letters between the A and the Y in Accessibility. Same type of abbreviation as K8S for Kubernetes, I18N for internationalization, L10N for localization, etc.
ASD: Autism Spectrum Disorder. A catch-all term that encompasses both Aspergers and Autism.
ASL — American Sign Language. Most countries have their own sign language variants: BSL for British Sign Language, or LSM for Mexican Sign Language (which in Spanish is Lingua de Signos de México, hence the order of the abbreviation letters). Don’t confuse ASL with ALS which is an Assistive Listening System.
AD (sometimes DA): Either Audio Description or Described/Descriptive Audio. A special audio track for people with vision loss that augments and verbalizes crucial non-auditory information about visual scenes or characters.
ARIA: Accessible Rich Internet Applications. An HTML specification as per the WCAG specification, used to announce something to screen reader users that is not visible to sighted users. Not to be confused with AIRA, which is a company which uses glasses to provide customer support to people with vision loss.
AT: Assistive Technology. Software or hardware used by people with disabilities to turn something they can’t do, perceive, or operate into something they can do, perceive, or operate.
BYOD: Bring Your Own Device. People with disabilities usually have highly personalized AT settings. Don’t make the mistake of giving them a different device in UX testing. This erects a huge barrier that will likely invalidate your research.
CART: Computer Aided Real-time Transcription. Basically CC (Closed Captioning), except for live events most importantly with a live human doing the work. CC is visual interpretation of a sound track used by people with hearing loss. Considered a curb cut since it is used for other reasons by people who do not have hearing loss.
CPACC: Certified Professional Accessibility Core Competencies. A certification in accessibility management and general accessibility concepts from IAAP (see below).
CRPD: Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. A United Nations protocol that supports a movement to change viewing persons with disabilities from “objects” of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as individuals with rights, who are active members of society.
CVAA: Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. A federal communications law which increases the access of persons with disabilities to modern communications.
DEI: Disability Equality Index, a survey done annually by Disability:IN (formerly USBLN).
DoJ: Department of Justice, the federal enforcement arm of the ADA.
D&I: Diversity and Inclusion. Sometimes D&I includes disabilities, most of the time it is #Diversish.
EIT: Electronic Information Technology
G3ICT: Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs. Which is an acronym WITHIN an acronym. ICT is Information and Communication Technology.
HOH: Hard of Hearing. Sometimes HL for Hearing loss is also used. Hearing impaired is no longer the preferred term in countries that have adopted people-first language.
HCI: Human Computer Interface
IAAP: International Association of Accessibility Professionals, a division of G3ICT (see above).
IDD: Intellectual and Developmental Disability. Do NOT use the “R word” Under any circumstances. Ever. Even if you reside in a country where the localized version of that word is acceptable. It is offensive beyond belief.
JAWS: Job Access With Speech. A PC-based screen reader. I was probably five years in to my a11y career before I realized the JAWS was an acronym and didn’t refer to a shark.
LD: Learning Difference, formerly Learning Disability.
MaMo: No, not an annual test for breast cancer. Maturity Model. A way of structurally and repeatedly testing how mature your organization is with respect to some aspect of the business. There are at least three Accessibility / Disability Maturity Models out there, my favourite is the one I helped develop (of course), DAMM — Digital Accessibility Maturity Model (no I didn’t pick the name).
ML: Machine Learning. A tool that is used to improve general consumer experiences and could be used to improve accessibility experiences as well. Based on large amounts of data gathering which could be biased, however.
NT/ND: Neuro-typical and Neuro-diverse. These terms allow one to avoid the awkward use of the word “normal” to mean a person without ASD, LD, or IDD
NVDA: Non Visual Desktop Access, a free screen reader put out by a non-profit in Australia.
OCR: Office for Civil Rights. In the US, each department such as Education and HHS has it’s own OCR forms and process
PfL — People-first Language
PwD(s): People with Disability/ies. It is the PfL version of “disabled person”
POUR: No, it’s not referring to margaritas. POUR is the acronym for the fur W3C/WAI pillars of accessibility — Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust.
RA: Reasonable Accommodations, but occasionally Rheumatoid Arthritis, depending on the context. “She needed RAs because she had RA” is a legit sentence.
SR: Screen Reader. JAWS and NVDA are screen readers.
TB: Talk Back, the screen reader for Android devices.
TT: Trusted Tester, someone who has completed an exhaustive accessibility testing program based on Section 508 (see below) put out by by the federal government.
UI/UX: User interface and User experience
VO: VoiceOver, the screen reader built into Apple devices that is part of iOS.
VPAT: “Voluntary” Product Accessibility Templates. Voluntary to the extent that if an organization doesn’t sell to the federal government OR anyone who gets money from the federal government, they don’t have to do one. “Anyone who gets money from the federal government” includes hospitals, universities, states, counties, municipalities, police, fire, museums, etc. That’s a lot of ground.
VR: another dual purpose acronym, depending on context. Vocational Rehabilitation or Virtual Reality. “VR should start recommending accessible VR as a job learning tool” is a legit sentence.
WAI: Web Accessibility Initiative, the effort W3C undertook to create WCAG.
WAS: Web Accessibility Specialist, a technical accessibility certification from IAAP.
W3C: World Wide Web Consortium, the folks that author and maintain WCAG (see below)
WCAG: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
and a couple of special ones that don’t alphabetize well:
Section 508: The law that governs accessibility of ICT purchase by the US Federal government. Generally also applies to organizations who receive money from the US federal government either directly or indirectly
*aaS: Fill in the first letter followed by “as a Service”. Implies that the work being performed in the first letter is being done in the cloud. Some *aaS related to a11y include:
- AaaS — Accessibility as a Service
- DaaS — Database / Data Center as a Service
- SaaS — Software as a Service
- TaaS — Testing as a Service
Did I miss your favourite acronym? Let me know in the comments !