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SJA ltd.

SJA’s Glossary

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3 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • 3G: Third Generation: The third generation of technology of the mobile wireless industry. This standard allows for high-speed, always-on data transmission and reception. Users can handle e-mail, live broadcasting via TV, instant messaging and Web browsing as smoothly as current wired technologies.


  • Accessibility (Web): Web accessibility refers to the practice of making Web pages accessible to people using a wide range of user agent devices, not just standard Web browsers. This is especially important for people with disabilities such as blindness; in order to access the Web, such people require special devices in addition to (or instead of) a standard browser.
    The disabilities that Web accessibility is intended to deal with are:
    • visual impairments including blindness, various common types of poor eyesight, various types of colour blindness;
    • motor impairments, e.g. Parkinson’s Disease, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, stroke;
    • cognitive impairments, e.g. poor short-term memory (as commonly caused by senile dementia), dyslexia;
    • deafness or hearing impairments.
  • Accessibility Expert: An expert in accessibility on the Internet. Expert in how disabled users use the Internet as well as web applications, the hurdles these users encounter and the solutions available to make it easier for them. The accessibility expert will know about tools and technologies utilized by disabled users.
  • AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML): is a web development technique for creating interactive web applications. The intent is to make web pages feel more responsive by exchanging small amounts of data with the server behind the scenes, so that the entire web page does not have to be reloaded each time the user makes a change. This is meant to increase the web page’s interactivity, speed, and usability.
  • ALT text: The yellow ‘tooltip’ which appears when users move the mouse cursor over an image (does not occur in Mozilla Firefox). In the early years of Internet development, alternative text was particularly helpful to people using text-only browsers (like Lynx). Nowadays, even when graphical capabilities are a commodity, alternative text is still highly appreciated by users with accessibility requirements and users looking for ways to optimize their network bandwidth use.
  • Audit: An audit is an evaluation of a, system, process, project or product. It is performed by a independent, objective, and unbiased usability or accessibility expert. An audit can be of a technical nature (i.e. Accessibility Audit) or light (Quick Web Review).


  • Bread Crumb trail: A Web site navigation technique. Bread crumbs typically appear horizontally near the top of a Web page, providing links back to each previous page that the user navigates through in order to get to the current page. Basically, they provide a trail for the user to follow back to the starting/entry point of a Web site and may look something like this:
    home page –> section page –> sub section page
  • Browser: Short for Web browser, a software application used to locate and display Web pages. The most popular browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera and Safari. All of these are graphical browsers, which means that they can display graphics as well as text. In addition, most modern browsers can present multimedia information, including sound and video, though they require plug-ins for some formats.


  • Checklist: A list of checkpoints to use when reviewing or auditing an application or a website. An example of a checklist is the WCAG checklist.
  • CMS (Content Management System): Software that enables one to add and/or manipulate content on a Web site.
  • Consultancy: A consultant is a professional who provides expert advice in a particular domain or area of expertise such as accessibility, usability, system analysis etc. SJA provides independent consultancy on all aspects of the Web.
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): In computing, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a style-sheet language used to describe the presentation of a document written in a mark-up language. The CSS specifications are maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). CSS is used by both the authors and readers of web pages to define colours, fonts, layout, and other aspects of document presentation. It is designed primarily to enable the separation of document content (written in HTML or a similar mark-up language) from document presentation (written in CSS). This separation can improve content accessibility, provide more flexibility and control in the specification of presentational characteristics, and reduce complexity and repetition in the structural content. CSS can also allow the same mark-up page to be presented in different styles for different rendering methods, such as on-screen, in print, by voice (when read out by a speech-based browser or screen reader) and on braille-based, tactile devices.


  • DHTML (Dynamic Hypertext Mark-up Language): Dynamic HTML or DHTML is a term used for a collection of technologies, used together to create interactive and animated web sites by using a combination of static mark-up language (such as HTML), a client-side scripting language (such as JavaScript), the presentation definition language (e.g. Cascading Style Sheets [CSS]), and the Document Object Model. The term has fallen out of use in recent years, as DHTML scripts often tended to not work well cross platform. Newer techniques, including Ajax and unobtrusive JavaScript coding have led to similar results, but in an accessible, standards-compliant way.
  • Drop-down menu/list: is a user interface element similar to a list box which allows the user to choose from a number of values, but only showing the selected value until the control is activated. When the drop-down list is inactive, it is condensed to the height of a single line, displaying the selected value. When activated, it both displays the selected value and shows a list box of all the available values; when the user selects a new value, the drop-down list reverts to its inactive state.


  • Ease of Use, User Friendly: Refers to the property of a product or thing (e.g. website, mobile phone, computer) that a user can operate without having to overcome a steep learning curve. Things with high ease of use will be intuitive to the average user in the target market for the product. The term is often used as a goal during the design of a product, as well as being used for marketing purposes. Put simply, things with “high ease of use” are easy to use.


  • Flash: Since its introduction in 1996, Flash technology has become a popular method for adding animation and interactivity to web pages; several software products, systems, and devices are able to create or display Flash. Flash is commonly used to: create animation, advertisements, various web-page components, integrate video into web pages, and more recently, develop rich Internet applications such as portals. The Flash files, traditionally called "flash movies", usually have a .swf file extension and may be an object of a web page or strictly "played" in the standalone Flash Player.
  • Focus Groups: Focus groups are a somewhat informal technique that can help assess user needs and feelings both before interface design and long after implementation. In a focus group, a group of users are brought together for discussions on issues and concerns about the features of a user interface. The group is run by a moderator who maintains the group’s focus and direction of topics. Focus groups often bring out users’ spontaneous reactions and ideas providing an ideal way to observer group dynamics and issues. It is also a good way to ask people to discuss how they perform activities that span many days or weeks: something that is expensive to observe directly. However, they can only assess what users say they do and not the way users actually operate the product.
  • Font sizes: With correct use of Cascading Style Sheets on a website users can easily adjust the font size on that website. Often buttons for enlarging are provided to allow for easy adjustment. This is particularly useful for users with impaired eye sight.


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  • HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): The authoring language used to create documents on the World Wide Web. HTML defines the structure and layout of a Web document by using a variety of tags and attributes. The correct structure for an HTML document starts with <HTML><HEAD> (enter here what document is about) <BODY> and ends with </BODY></HTML>. All the information you’d like to include in your Web page fits in between the <BODY> and </BODY> tags. There are hundreds of other tags used to format and layout the information in a Web page. Tags are also used to specify hypertext links. These allow Web developers to direct users to other Web pages with only a click of the mouse on either an image or word(s).


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  • JavaScript: A scripting language developed by Netscape to enable Web authors to design interactive sites. JavaScript can interact with HTML source code, enabling Web authors to spice up their sites with dynamic content. JavaScript is endorsed by a number of software companies and is an open language that anyone can use without purchasing a license. It is supported by most browsers.


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  • Needs Analysis: Needs analysis is a prerequisite to a vision for a website and prioritizing of tasks. Needs analysis hence makes work on development and maintenance of the website easier. Decisions about emerging issues, in relation to content or function, become easier when a needs analysis is in place. If the website is of any substantial size, serious development or investment should never be embarked upon without first analyzing the needs.
  • Navigation: The navigation scheme you set up for your Web site acts as its road map, with clearly marked destinations, roads that intertwine, and even suggested routes. Visitors to your websites will want to know three things: where they are, where they can go, and how they can get back to where they came from. A website’s navigation is often broken down into primary navigational menu, secondary navigation and third level navigation.


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  • Participants: A person participating in a usability test, a focus group, accessibility test etc. A participant should be a good representation of a user who would normally use the product/website being tested.
  • PDF file (Portable Document Format): Is a file format proprietary to Adobe Systems for representing two-dimensional documents in a device independent and resolution independent fixed-layout document format. Anyone may create applications that read and write PDF files PDF files are most appropriately used to encode the exact look of a document in a device-independent way. While the PDF format can describe very simple one page documents, it may also be used for many pages, complex documents that use a variety of different fonts, graphics, colours, and images.
  • Priority levels I, II and III (Accessibility): As provided by the W3C, WCAG Guidelines, each of the 14 checkpoints have priority levels assigned to them, either priority I, II or III. Priority level I is the minimum requirement regarding accessibility on websites.


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  • Review: see also: Audit


  • Settings for users with dyslexia: Settings using CSS to provide easier reading of a web site on screen. The settings can be adjusted in several ways: e.g. font size, font type, font colour, background colour, vowel colours, space between characters, space between words, space between lines etc. This is also useful for users with impaired eye sight.
  • Screen Reader: A screen reader is a software application that attempts to identify and interpret what is being displayed on the screen. This is then presented to a blind user as speech (by text-to-speech) or by driving a braille display. Screen readers are used by people with little or no functional vision: people with some vision often use screen magnifiers.
  • Screen sizes: For pages designed with different screen sizes in mind users can select a screen size that best fits their screen. This helps prevent users with small screens having to scroll vertically or miss out on information that "falls off" their screens. This is easily done with CSS. Specific buttons are often provided for this function.
  • Scrolling: To view consecutive lines of data on the display screen. The term scroll means that once the screen is full, each new line appears at the edge of the screen and all other lines move over one position. For example, when you scroll down, each new line appears at the bottom of the screen and all the other lines move up one row, so that the top line disappears. The term vertical scrolling refers to the ability to scroll up or down. Horizontal scrolling means that the image moves sideways.


  • Task list: In a usability test users of a product (e.g. website or a mobile phone) are asked to perform certain tasks in an effort to measure the product’s ease-of-use, task time, and the user’s perception of the experience. A task list should represent users’ expected/normal activities with that product.


  • User: An individual who uses a computer, an applicaton or a software. This includes expert programmers as well as novices.
  • User Feedback: The user feedback can be varied. It can both apply to the level of feedback (information) the users’ receive after pressing a submit button in a form. User feedback can also apply to the feedback received in terms of state change such as colours when users press a navigational item within the primary navigation.
  • User Interface: The junction between a user and a computer program. An interface is a set of commands or menus through which a user communicates with a program. The user interface is one of the most important parts of any program because it determines how easily you can make the program do what you want. A powerful program with a poorly designed user interface has little value. Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) that use windows, icons, and pop-up menus have become standard on personal computers.
  • Usability Expert: A person with expertise in human computer interaction. By understanding and researching the interaction between product and user, a usability expert can provide insight that is unattainable by traditional company-oriented market research. For example, after observing and interviewing users, the usability expert may identify needed functionality or design flaws that were not anticipated.
  • Usability Testing: Usability is the measure of a product’s potential to accomplish the goals of the user. In information technology, the term is often used in relation to software applications and Web sites, but it can be used in relation to any product that is employed to accomplish a task (for example, a toaster, a car dashboard, or an alarm clock). Some factors used in determining product usability are ease-of-use, visual consistency, and a clear, defined process for evolution.
    Usability testing is a method by which users of a product are asked to perform certain tasks in an effort to measure the product’s ease-of-use, task time, and the user’s perception of the experience. Usability testing can be done formally, in a usability lab with video cameras, or informally, with paper mock-ups of an application or Web site. Changes are made to the application or site based on the findings of the usability tests. Whether the test is formal or informal, usability test participants are encouraged to think aloud and voice their every opinion. Usability testing is best used in conjunction with user-centered design, a method by which a product is designed according to the needs and specifications of users.


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  • WAI: The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is an effort to improve the accessibility of the World Wide Web (WWW or Web) for people using a wide range of user agent devices, not just standard web browsers. This is especially important for people with physical disabilities which require such devices to access the Web.
  • Webmaster: An individual who manages a Web site. Depending on the size of the site, the Webmaster might be responsible for making sure that the web server hardware and software is running properly, designing the Web site, creating and updating web pages, monitoring traffic through the site and more.
  • WCAG: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are part of a series of accessibility guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative. They consist of a set of guidelines on making content accessible, primarily for disabled users, but also for all user agents, including highly limited devices, such as cell phones. The first working draft of what will become the WCAG 2.0. There has been some criticism levelled at WCAG 2.0 for being obscure, vague, and perhaps even a backwards step for Web accessibility.
  • W3C: The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where member organisations, a full-time staff, and the public, work together to develop standards for the World Wide Web.


  • XHTML (Extensible Hypertext Markup Language): A reformulation of HTML as an application of XML (eXtensible Markup Language). HTML and XHTML are very similar, but XHTML follows a stricter set of rules, making it easier to validate data and design pages that display consistently in a variety of environments.
  • XML (Extensible Markup Language): a specification developed by the W3C. XML. It allows designers to create their own customized tags, enabling the definition, transmission, validation, and interpretation of data between applications and between organizations.

Of interest
SJA is behind Kaupthing bank’s Intranet, voted as one of the 10 best Intranets of 2009 by Jakob Nielsen.
Accessibility, should we care?

Priority Level IPriority Level II