PEAT Glossary

Welcome to the PEAT glossary. You can find definitions for key accessibility terms used on this site in the list below.

Select one of the letters below to advance the page to terms beginning with that letter.


ALT attribute

An ALT attribute provides a text equivalent for a website image if a user cannot view it. The descriptive text is known as alternative text, or "ALT text" for shorthand. The ALT attribute is inserted as an attribute in an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) document to describe the nature or contents of an image.

Assistive technology

Assistive technology (AT) is legally defined as "any item, piece of equipment or system, whether acquired commercially, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capacities of individuals with disabilities." For example, screen readers used by people with vision impairments to navigate the web are considered assistive technology.

Synonyms: AT

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code sprint

A code sprint is a collaborative gathering of developers for a set amount of time to further a focused development of the project.


The 21st Century Communication and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) establishes certain accessibility requirements for digital technologies in voice communication, emergency notification, video content, electronic messaging, videoconferencing, and wireless devices. CVAA covers both manufacturers and service providers.

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Employment lifecycle

This term refers to all stages of employment: recruitment and job application, on-boarding, productivity, benefits management, and retirement, among others. Many technologies are used in each stage, and there are accessibility implications and best practices for all of those technologies.


Employee Resource Group, such as an informal organization of employees with disabilities within a company that may both advocate (for more hiring or promotion) and advise the employer (on outreach or new accessible technologies).

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Information and communication technologies

Information and communication technologies. ICT includes all technologies used for information or communication purposes, such as computers, phones, websites, and word processing documents. Also referred to as 'IT' or 'EIT' (electronic and information technology). 

Formal definition: Information and communications technology (ICT) is defined as any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment that is used in the (1) creation, conversion, or duplication of data or information and (2) the automatic acquisition, storage, analysis, evaluation, manipulation, management, movement, control, display, switching, interchange, transmission, reception, or broadcast of data or information. The term includes, but is not limited to, computers and ancillary equipment, including external hard drives; software, including operating systems and applications; electronic content, including e-mail, electronic documents and Internet and Intranet websites; telecommunications products, including video communication terminals; information kiosks and transaction machines; videos; IT services; and multifunction office machines that copy, scan, and fax documents.

Synonyms: Information technology ICT IT EIT


Devices or systems that work together are interoperable. This may mean that their physical connectors are compatible, or that they use the same standard for exchanging information, or that they can share documents and files. The term is sometimes used to mean compatibility between mainstream ICT and assistive technologies.

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Section 255

Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act requires manufacturers and telecommunications service providers to make their products and services "accessible to and usable by" people with disabilities. Section 255 is overseen by the FCC, and includes comprehensive guidelines.

Section 503

Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act requires federal contractors to not discriminate against applicants or employees with disabilities. That requirement includes providing reasonable accommodations for both job application systems and workplace technologies, which may mean assistive technologies.

Section 508

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires federal agencies to "develop, procure, maintain, and use" information and communication technology that is accessible to people with disabilities. Other public sector entities have adopted Section 508 in some manner. More information is available at the federal Section 508 portal.


Science, technology, engineering, and math.

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Universal design

Universal design (UD) means "the design of products, environments, programs and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design." (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Article 2). UD, a design process rather than a description of products, encompasses accessibility, going beyond it to address the widest possible user base. UD does not exclude assistive technologies where needed, as they are part of the usage environment that must be taken into account.

Synonyms: universal design UD

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The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is the tool used to report a product's compliance with Section 508. It is a table that shows all of Section 508's provisions, and whether and how well the product addresses them. VPATs may be requested by a purchaser, and provided by an ICT vendor. Not all provisions apply to all products, so most VPATs are a subset of the full form. The VPAT was developed by the Information Technology Industry Council in coordination with the General Services Administration.

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Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) is the international set of technical guidelines produced by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). WCAG 2.0 includes general guidance, with detailed information about solutions, and 3 levels of compliance.


A workaround is any technique that allows a user with a disability to succeed in using an otherwise inaccessible product. Examples include viewing captions in a separate chat window for a webinar being held on a platform that does not support captions itself, and copying and pasting text from a screen-reader-incompatible source into another application that works with the screen reader. Workarounds may be effective, but they are usually inconvenient, and should be temporary.

Synonyms: workaround

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