An Accessible Web Design Glossary

June 10, 2006

Topics: Accessibility, News.

One chronic problem in writing web development articles is keeping your writing readable. The world of web design, programming, and web accessibility is loaded with industry terminology which are undoubtedly not immediately obvious in meaning to someone who’s just begun researching the subject.

However, neither the option of excluding all industry terminology from an article nor the option of including a definition inline for every term is really palatable for me. With the first option, the article becomes simplified to a point of abstraction, and is less useful for the practically-minded designer trying to get a firmer grasp of the subject. Inline definitions, however, can easily interrupt the flow of the text, rendering the overall readability lower because of the extraneous information.

The fact is, a constant barrage of definitions is not the right choice for every audience; and neither is the assumption of too much or too little knowledge.

What I’ve done to attempt to tackle this sticky problem is begin work on a glossary of web accessibility terminology.
I will gradually be adding contextual links to these terms in articles where I deem it necessary or useful. Those who need the definition can follow the link, those who don’t won’t need to. I’ll also be implementing an alternate look for links to these definitions, to attempt to make it clear that these links are different from the normal, run-of-the-mill outbound links.

Why write my own definitions? So I can have continuous control over the definition of a term, and so I’m not dependent on some other authority site remaining authoritative or, for that matter, failing to include all the terms I may want to refer to.

The glossary has a long way to go – only 26 terms so far, but I’ll keep plugging away as time allows. Feel free to suggest terms I may want to define, as well…