Unusual Words
Success Criterion 3.1.3 (Level AAA)


Do you provide definitions for any unusual words or topic specific jargon used on your website/application?

Why is this important

Making web content accessible doesn’t always mean focusing exclusively on technical work. For high incidence disabilities, like cognitive impairments, making the actual language easy to read and understand is just as vital as focusing on technology for viewers with visual or hearing impairments.

Content that contains technical language, jargon terminology, unexpanded acronyms, or appear text-heavy can make it difficult for those who may have vision, cognitive or motor control limitations to read through and comprehend the information.

Whom does it benefit?

Example 1:

As a person with cognitive disabilities
I want to be provided with a definition to an unusual word
so that I can understand it.

Example 2:

As a person with language disability
I want to be provided with a definition or a link to a dictionary for an unusual word
so that I can learn its meaning.

Example 3:

As a person with learning disability
I want the texts I am reading to be free from jargon or technical vocabulary
so that I can understand them without issues.

What should you do?

Consider any potential limitations for clearly understanding the message or information and limit the use of technical language, jargon terminology, and unexpanded acronyms by using layman’s terms whenever possible. Using “layman’s terms” or language that is clear and concise and not requiring people to read between the lines allows them to understand the meaning behind the information being conveyed.

How do you do it?

  • Define the first instance of content specific acronyms not commonly used. i.e. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
  • Provide definitions for terms for content specific words not commonly used either in a glossary of terms or at the bottom of the page the term is first used on.

Need technical guidance?

Technical guidance is available for implementing this Success Criterion at the Understanding Success Criterion 3.1.3 - Unusual Words page.

Additional Resources to help you: