This glossary of key terms aims to support a shared language for all users of the Guidelines. Different sources for definitions have been used for this glossary:

  • Existing definitions that are already in use at the international level, in particular key terms defined within:
    • (1) United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) / Microsoft ICT Competency Framework for Teachers (2011)
    • (2) UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education / European Agency ICTs in Education for People with Disabilities: Review of innovative practice (2011)
  • Key literature quotations and citations
  • Operational definitions developed within the i-access and ICT4IAL projects.

Key terms

Article 9 of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities defines accessibility as: ‘appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas’ (United Nations, 2006, p.8) (2).
Accessible information
Information provided in formats which allow every learner to access content ‘on an equal basis with others’ (United Nations, 2006, p. 8).
Assistive technologies (ATs)
Adaptive devices that enable people with special needs to access all manner of technical products and services. ATs cover a whole range of ICTs, from customised keyboards and speech recognition software to Braille computer displays and closed captioning systems for TV’ (European Commission, 2011, E-inclusion) (2).
Are intended for audiences who cannot hear the dialogue. In contrast to subtitles, captions also include a description of who is speaking as well as sounds.
Closed captions
Captions that can be selected to be visible or not versus captions that are visible by default.
(as in digital content, digital devices, digital resources, digital technology) – essentially, another word for computers and computer technology. (Computers store and process information by converting it all to single-figure numbers – digits.) (1). The ‘skills required to achieve digital competence. It is underpinned by basic skills in ICT and the use of computers to retrieve, assess, store, produce, present and exchange information, and to communicate and participate in collaborative networks via the Internet’ (European Commission, 2008, p. 4) (2).
‘overcoming the barriers and difficulties that people experience when trying to access goods and services based on ICTs’ (European Commission, 2005) (2).
Adapts ‘the functionality of the EPUB 3 format to the unique structural, semantic and behavioral requirements of educational publishing’ (International Digital Publishing Forum, 2015)
‘both inclusive ICT and the use of ICT to achieve wider inclusion objectives. It focuses on participation of all individuals and communities in all aspects of the information society’. e-inclusion policy ‘aims at reducing gaps in ICT usage and promoting the use of ICT to overcome exclusion, and improve economic performance, employment opportunities, quality of life, social participation and cohesion’ (European Commission, 2006a, p. 1) (2).
Any forms of electronically supported learning and teaching. (2)
e-learning/online tool
Tool or system that supports online learning.
Used to refer to materials that are accessible by a computer or other digital devices. It may include text, images, audio, video or a combination of these.
A format of electronic or e-books. More specifically the ‘.epub is the file extension of an XML format for reflowable digital books and publications’. EPUB is composed of three open standards produced by the IDPF (International Digital Publishing Forum) (DAISY, 2015).
A typography used in text-editing software. A san serif font is a font without curls or strokes at the end of each character. Times New Roman is an exception of a sans serif font.
How information is converted or packaged – such as text-editing programs or presentations – and delivered or presented to the user. The ending within file names usually shows the format it is saved in, such as .doc, .docx, .rtf, .xls, .csv, .jpg, .pdf, etc.
Generally understood to refer to a message or data that is communicated concerning a specific issue. Specifically, these Guidelines focus on the aim of sharing messages to inform and build knowledge in a learning environment. Within the Guidelines the different types of information considered are text, image, audio and video.
Information and communication technology (ICT)
‘consists of all technical means used to handle information and aid communication, including both computer and network hardware as well as necessary software. In other words, ICT consists of IT as well as telephony, broadcast media, and all types of audio and video processing and transmission’ (FOLDOC, cited by European Agency) (2).
Information providers
Any individual or organisation that creates and distributes information.
Information society
‘A society in which the creation, distribution and treatment of information have become the most significant economic and cultural activities’ … The information society is ‘considered as a necessary previous step to build Knowledge Societies’ (UNESCO/IFAP, 2009, pp. 20–22) (2).
Learners with disabilities and/or special needs
The potential target group of people who can benefit from more accessible information provision. This phrasing respects the terminology of both the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – UNCRPD (2006) and agreements reached with the ICT4IAL project partners.
A channel through which information can be shared. Media usually contains different types of information simultaneously. Examples include electronic documents, online resources and online learning tools.
A digital label given to information. It is machine-readable and aids the search and categorisation of information, thereby improving searchability.
Open Educational Resource (OER)
Defined by the European Commission as ‘learning resources that are usable, adaptable to specific learning needs, and shareable freely’. Another widely used definition, promoted by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, defines OER as ‘teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others’.
Persons ‘who are not able to use printed books, newspapers and magazines – including those with dyslexia, motor disabilities or age related macular degeneration’ (DAISY, 2015).
The ability to change size and zoom of information according to the needs of the user/learner or the device used.
Literally ‘meaning’. When used in connection with giving information structure, it stresses the necessity to give a meaningful structure.
A software program designed to give access from a computer, tablet, mobile or other digital device by reading the presented information with the use of a synthetic voice. In addition to reading text, a screen reader also allows a user/learner to navigate and interact with the content using their voice. For Braille users a screen reader can also supply the information in Braille.
Screen reader
A software program designed to give access from a computer, tablet, mobile or other digital device by reading the presented information with the use of a synthetic voice. In addition to reading text, a screen reader also allows a user/learner to navigate and interact with the content using their voice. For Braille users a screen reader can also supply the information in Braille.
Structured text
Text information which has been organised with an established reading order and headings using software functions such as applying styles or tagging.
Are intended for audiences that do not understand the language used in a dialogue.
Process which embeds information about the reading order, flow and organisational structure within an electronic document.
Often used as another word for ICT, although strictly speaking ‘technology’ can mean almost any type of tool or applied knowledge. For example, pencil and paper, slates, blackboards and whiteboards are all types of writing technology (1).
User-centred design
A design approach that focuses on making systems and tools usable. The goal is a high degree of usability.
‘Extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use’ (International Organization for Standardization, ISO 9241-11:1998(en)).
Web 2.0
Web applications that facilitate interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centred design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web. A Web 2.0 site gives its users the free choice to interact or collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where users (consumers) are limited to the passive viewing of content that was created for them. Examples of Web 2.0 include social-networking sites, blogs, wikis, video-sharing sites, hosted services, web applications’. The term ‘Web 2.0’ can be traced back to Tom O’Reilly and the O’Reilly Media Conference in 2004 (2).
‘Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is developed through the W3C process in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of proving a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally’ (World Wide Web Consortium – W3C, 2012).
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
‘An international community where Member organisations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. […] W3C’s mission is to lead the Web to its full potential’ (World Wide Web Consortium – W3C, 2015) (2).