Accents: in written language these tend to help those reading text to pronounce the word correctly.  They are the diacritics seen as glyphs or marks above and below letters in French and several other European languages as well as those based on Hindi, Arabic and Thai scripts.

Alt Tags and Accessibility :  Webaim offer advice about the appropriate Use of Alternative Text and many other technical hints and tips to help with making web pages more accessible to those with disabilities.

American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII): based on the English alphabet that encodes 128 specified characters – the numbers 0-9, the letters a-z and A-Z, some basic punctuation symbols, some control codes that originated with Teletype machines, and a blank space – into the 7-bit binary integers

AT or Assistive Technology: Assistive Technology (AT) is any product or service designed to enable independence for disabled and older people. (User group consultation at the King’s Fund, 2001). For other definitions:

Bidi or Bidirectional languages: Languages that are written from right to left but may have some text and numbers that are written from left-to-right as in English. Languages include Arabic, Hebrew and Farsi.

Character:  In this context it is a single mark or symbol used to represent a word,  letter or number in a written language.

Character encoding: machine-readable code that can be mapped against individual or sets of characters such as numbers or letters to present it on the screen as readable text.

Cursive: Joined up writing as in handwriting but in Arabic and Cyrillic languages the script may also appear joined when digitised.

Demographics:  human populations – their size, density, statistics relating to a wide range of subjects such as sex, age, gender, religion etc. They are often provided for each country and used by businesses as a way of researching into the need for certain products etc. or governments for supporting services and policies.

Diacritics: These are marks or glyphs that are used to support pronunciation such as the sounds of short and some long vowels in Hindi Thai and Arabic.  They may also represent double letters and in older texts such as the Quran,  there may be additional super scripts and letter merging between word boundaries.

Diglossia: This is where there are two versions of the same language used side by side by a local population – local conversational Greek and Classical Greek.  One may be the local dialect and the other a standardised form that might be heard on the television news or read in books.  Another example is Classical Arabic in the Quran or Modern Standardised Arabic as seen in papers and on the internet and the colloquial Arabic spoken across Morocco, Egypt, Syria and the Gulf that all differs sometimes linguistically as well as in accent.  

Font: In computing terms a font is seen as a typeface where letters, characters or glyphs that make up the text on the screen can be adapted to suit the user by size and weight.  The style of the font has a name such as Times New Roman or Arial.

Globalisation:  In terms of development of products this process allows items and services to be used across the world with a minimal amount of change.

Glyph: A mark on a surface such as stone, paper or that has been digitised and can be seen as a stroke within a character or a complete letter as used in written text.

Internationalisation: is the process by which products are developed so that they can be easily adapted to suit local needs.

Localisation:  development and adaptation of services and software, websites etc suitable for use in a certain locale – environment. setting which requires cultural as well as language and possible technical changes.

Print Impairment: having a difficulty reading text based or print materials.  This may be due to a visual impairment or low vision, dyslexia, literacy difficulties or a physical or other cognitive difficulty making it hard to access text.  Those who have a severe hearing impairment or have been deaf from birth may also have literacy difficulties.

Sans serif:  without serifs – fonts without small lines or tags often at an angle on the end of each part a letter – A comparison of the sans serif fonts

This is an example of ‘Arial’ font – sans serif

This is an example of ‘Times New Roman’ font – serif

Screen Reader:  A program or app that will read aloud all that can be viewed on the screen of a computer  tablet or other mobile device.  This type of program can be an essential assistive technology for those who are blind or have very low vision. May also be useful in a hands free situation.

Responsive Design Techniques: mainly used to describe the need for designs that will work for web pages that are viewed on the mobile phone as well as the desktop computer.  

Unicode: “Unicode provides a unique number for every character, no matter what the platform, no matter what the program, no matter what the language.”(

UTF-8: Unicode Transformation Format 8-bit is a variable-width encoding that can represent every character in the Unicode character set. It works with older codes such as ASCII and allows those working on the web to represent many more characters and symbols than were feasible with the older systems.