Accessibility (a11y)

Definition - What does Accessibility (a11y) mean?

Accessibility (a11y) is a measure of a computer system's accessibility is to all people, including those with disabilities or impairments. It concerns both software and hardware and how they are configured in order to enable a disabled or impaired person to use that computer system successfully.

Accessibility is also known as assistive technology.

Techopedia explains Accessibility (a11y)

Accessibility refers to how software or hardware combinations are designed to make a system accessible to persons with disabilities, such as:

  • Visual impairment
  • Hearing loss
  • Limited dexterity

For example, a website developed with accessibility in mind might have text-to-speech capabilities or output for special braille hardware geared toward individuals with visual impairments. In today’s Internet-driven world, the accessibility of a website is paramount in order for it to reach all audiences.

Accessibility also can be incorporated with other forms of media, like pictures and videos. An example of accessibility built into media is subtitles. In this case, a film may not be produced for the hard of hearing, but subtitles help make the film more enjoyable for those with this impairment.

The word accessibility is abbreviated to "a11y," with the number eleven in the middle referring to the number of letters that the word contains between the first and last letter. It follows an Information and Communications Technology (ICT)-oriented convention, just like internationalization (i18n) and localization (l10n), which are used mostly in the software community.

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