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Augmentative and alternative communication
aberrant behavior
Deviating from the ordinary or natural way; exceptional; abnormal.
German Alliance for barrier free Information Technology
Acceptable Terms
A table of acceptable and unacceptable terms courtesy of the San Antonio Disability Access Office.
The quality of being available when needed. The extent to which an application can be used by a variety of people, especially those with disabilities.
access key
An alphabetic key used as a shortcut for menu commands and Web page navigation. This is usually underlined in Windows applications and may also be underlined in some Web pages. See also, keyboard mnemonic.
acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP)
Acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP) is an autoimmune process with progressive weakness and mild sensory changes. Sensory symptoms often precede motor weakness. About 20% of patients end up with respiratory failure. There are many variants. See also Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).
adaptive technology
Adaptive technology is technology designed to change appearance or content over time in response to how an application or tool is used. For example, handwriting recognition and voice recognition programs.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Auditory Processing Disorder. APD goes by many other names. Sometimes it is referred to as central auditory processing disorder (CAPD). Other common names are auditory perception problem, auditory comprehension deficit, central auditory dysfunction, central deafness, and so-called “word deafness.” (Definition from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), National Institutes of Health)
Acute Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy
Accessible Information Solutions [Australia]
alcohol and drug abuse
Warning signs of drug or alcohol abuse may include: a drop in performance, a change in groups of friends, aberrant behavior, and deterioration in family relationships. There may also be physical signs such as red eyes, a persistent cough, and change in eating and sleeping habits. Alcohol or drug dependency may include blackouts, withdrawal symptoms, and further problems in functioning at home, school, or work. (Definition from: Glossary of Symptoms and Mental Illnesses Affecting Teenagers at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, is a disease of the motor nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It causes progressive loss of motor control.
Alzheimer's disease
A progressive, neurodegenerative disease characterized by loss of function and death of nerve cells in several areas of the brain, leading to loss of mental functions such as memory and learning. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia.
Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia Nervosa occurs when a person refuses to maintain body weight at or above a minimal normal weight for age and height. The weight loss is usually self-imposed and is usually less than 85% of expected weight. The condition occurs most frequently in females, however, it can occur in males. Generally, the person has an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat even though underweight. Self evaluation of body weight and shape may be distorted and there may be denial of the potential health hazards caused by the low body weight.Physical symptoms can include: absence of regular menstrual cycles, dry skin, low pulse rate, and low blood pressure. Behavioral changes commonly occur such as social withdrawal, irritability, moodiness, and depression. Without treatment, this disorder can become chronic and with severe starvation, some persons may die. (Definition from: Glossary of Symptoms and Mental Illnesses Affecting Teenagers at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
American National Standards Institute
Anxiety is the fearful anticipation of further danger or problems accompanied by an intense unpleasant feeling (dysphoria) or physical symptoms. Anxiety may take the form of: separation anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or phobias. (Definition from: Glossary of Symptoms and Mental Illnesses Affecting Teenagers at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
See “sleep apnea
Accessibility Prompt, an application developed by the University of Toronto's Adaptive Technology Resource Centre (ATRC).
Chronic joint pain, stiffness, and/or inflammation. There are over 100 types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia.
American Standard Code for Information Interchange
assistive technology
Assistive technology is technology designed to assist people to perform a task. This is most commonly associated with people who have a disability, where assistive technology can help to overcome that disability. An example of this is audio browsers that read out Web pages to people who are blind, enabling them to use the Internet.
Adaptive Technology Resource Centre (University of Toronto)
Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD is usually first diagnosed during the elementary school years. In some cases, symptoms continue into adolescence. A teenager with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder has problems with paying attention and concentration and/or with hyperactive and impulsive behavior. Despite good intentions, a teenager may be unable to listen well, organize work, and follow directions. Cooperating in sports and games may be difficult. Acting before thinking can cause problems with parents, teachers, and friends. These teens may be restless, fidgety, and unable to sit still. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder occurs more commonly in boys and symptoms are always present before the age of seven. Problems related to ADHD appear in multiple areas of a youngster's life and can be very upsetting to the teen, his/her family, and people at school. Symptoms of ADHD frequently become less severe during the late teen years and in young adulthood. (Definition from: Glossary of Symptoms and Mental Illnesses Affecting Teenagers at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
Auditory processing
Auditory processing is a term used to describe what happens when your brain recognizes and interprets the sounds around you. Humans hear when energy that we recognize as sound travels through the ear and is changed into electrical information that can be interpreted by the brain. The “disorder” part of auditory processing disorder (APD) means that something is adversely affecting the processing or interpretation of the information. (Definition from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), National Institutes of Health)
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
AAC refers “to an area of research, clinical, and educational practice. AAC involves attempts to study and when necessary compensate for temporary or permanent impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions of individuals with severe disorders of speech-language production and/or comprehension, including spoken and written modes of communication” (ASHA, 2005, p. 1).

Individuals with severe communication disorders and for whom gestural, speech, and/or written communication is temporarily or permanently inadequate to meet all of their communication needs use AAC.

Axillary nerve dysfunction
Axillary nerve dysfunction is a loss of movement or sensation of the shoulder because of damage to the axillary nerve.
bi-polar disorder
Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) is a type of mood disorder with marked changes in mood between extreme elation or happiness and severe depression. The periods of elation are termed "mania". During this phase, the patient has an expansive or irritable mood, can become hyperactive and agitated, can get by with very little or no sleep, becomes excessively involved in multiple projects and activities, and has impaired judgment. A patient may indulge in risk taking behaviors such as sexual promiscuity and anti-social behaviors. Some patients in a manic phase may develop psychotic symptoms (grandiose delusions and hallucinations). Bipolar disorder generally occurs before the age of 30 years and may first develop during adolescence. (Definition from: Glossary of Symptoms and Mental Illnesses Affecting Teenagers at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
brain-computer interface
An interface controlled directly by neural output, rather than by interaction with a standard input device (such as a keyboard, mouse or voice-controlled interface). For example, the use of EEG electrodes attached to the scalp to detect electrical activity. The electrical activity (Event Related Potentials or ERPs), is detected and converted into an input or output command.
Bulimia Nervosa (Bulimia)
Bulimia Nervosa occurs when an person has repeated episodes of binge eating and purging. Binges are characterized by eating large quantities of food in a discrete period of time. The person also has feelings of being unable to stop eating and loss of control over the amount of food being eaten. Usually, after binge eating, they attempt to prevent weight gain by self-induced vomiting, laxative use, diuretics, enemas, medications, fasting, or excessive exercise. Their self-esteem is strongly affected by weight and body shape. Serious medical problems can occur with Bulimia Nervosa (for example, esophageal or gastric rupture, cardiac arrhythmias, kidney failure, and seizures). Other psychological problems such as depression, intense moods, and low self-esteem are common. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve outcome and decrease the risk of worsening depression, shame, and harmful weight fluctuations. (Definition from: Glossary of Symptoms and Mental Illnesses Affecting Teenagers at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
Computer-aided design
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is compression of the median nerve at the wrist, which may result in numbness, tingling, weakness, or muscle atrophy in the hand and fingers.
Common Gateway Interface
Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)
CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy) is a rare disorder of the peripheral nerves characterized by gradually increasing weakness of the legs and, to a lesser extent, the arms. It is cause by damage to the covering of the nerves, called myelin. It can start at any age and in both genders. Weakness occurs over two or more months.
Conduct Disorder
Teenagers with conduct disorder have a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which they violate the rights of others, or violate norms or rules that are appropriate to their age. Their conduct is more serious than the ordinary mischief and pranks of children and adolescents. Severe difficulties at home, in school, and in the community are common, and frequently there is very early sexual activity. Self-esteem is usually low, although the adolescent may project an image of “toughness”. Teenagers with this disorder have also been described as “delinquent” or “anti-social.” Some teenagers with conduct disorder may also have symptoms of other psychiatric disorders (see ADHD, depression, alcohol and drug abuse). (Definition from: Glossary of Symptoms and Mental Illnesses Affecting Teenagers at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
Cyan, magenta, yellow, and black
The mental process of thought, perception, reasoning, intuition, and memory. Sufferers may experience confusional states, acute memory disorders, delirium, encephalopathy, dementia, organic brain syndrome, psychosis, or toxic delirium.
cognitive impairment
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI, also known as incipient dementia, or isolated memory impairment) is an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. It can involve problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes. (By Mayo Clinic Staff)
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Digital Accessible Information SYstem. DAISY is a digital standard that permits everyone, but especially people who are blind, visually impaired, or have another print disability, to experience a better way to read.
A false, fixed, odd, or unusual belief firmly held by the patient. The belief is not ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture. There are delusions of paranoia (others are plotting against them), grandiose delusions (exaggerated ideas of one's importance or identity), and somatic delusions (a healthy person believing that he/she has a terminal illness). (Definition from: Glossary of Symptoms and Mental Illnesses Affecting Teenagers at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
The loss of intellectual functions (such as thinking, remembering, and reasoning) of sufficient severity to interfere with a person's daily functioning. Dementia is not a disease itself but rather a group of symptoms that may accompany certain diseases or conditions. Symptoms may also include changes in personality, mood, and behavior. Dementia is irreversible when caused by disease or injury but may be reversible when caused by drugs, alcohol, hormone or vitamin imbalances, or depression.
Though the term “depression” can describe a normal human emotion, it also can refer to a psychiatric disorder. In addition to feelings of sadness, irritability, grumpiness, and boredom, a depressive illness includes several of the following:

  • Change of appetite with either significant weight loss (when not dieting) or weight gain
  • Change in sleeping patterns (such as trouble falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much)
  • Loss of interest in activities formerly enjoyed
  • Loss of energy, fatigue, feeling slowed down for no reason, “burned out”
  • Feelings of guilt and self blame for things that are not one's fault
  • Inability to concentrate and indecisiveness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Recurring thought of death and suicide, wishing to die, or attempting suicide

(Definition from: Glossary of Symptoms and Mental Illnesses Affecting Teenagers at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)

Any restriction or lack (resulting from an impairment) of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being. See also handicap and impairment. [The following definition is from the United Nations Enable FAQ "What is the definition of disability?"]

This social perspective on disability is reflected in the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), adopted by the World Health Assembly in 2001. The ICF further recognizes that disability is a universal human experience and not a concern to a minority of humanity: every human being can suffer from a decrement in health and, thereby, experience some disability.

disability etiquette
There are different views in many countries. See the list of Disability Etiquette resources. See also Acceptable Terms.
Disk Operating System
drug and alcohol abuse
See alcohol and drug abuse.
Electronic Controlled Acoustic Shadow System
Electrocardiogram; EKG. An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test that records the electrical activity of the heart. ECG is used to measure the rate and regularity of heartbeats as well as the size and position of the chambers, the presence of any damage to the heart, and the effects of drugs or devices used to regulate the heart (such as a pacemaker).
Electroencephalogram. An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test to detect abnormalities in the electrical activity of the brain.
the Internet Guide for Engineering, Mathematics, and Computing [UK]
Electrocardiogram (see ECG).
Electromyography. Electromyography is a test that assesses the health of the muscles and the nerves controlling the muscles.
Education, Outreach, and Training
Encapsulated PostScript
Event Related Potential
Ergonomics & Safety Research Institute
European Accessible Information Network
An Internet site that is offered to a select audience only, usually with a relationship to the organization that owns the site. Most commonly this will be the customers of that organization but it may also be service providers, suppliers, partners, etc.
Frequently asked questions; a common form of help for users, especially on the Internet. A FAQ list shows the most common questions and provides direct, useful answers.
Federal Information Processing Standards
Guillain-Barré Syndrome
Graphics Interchange Format
Graphical user interface
Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)
Guillain-Barré (Ghee-yan Bah-ray) Syndrome, also called acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP) and Landry's ascending paralysis, is an inflammatory disorder of the peripheral nerves those outside the brain and spinal cord. It is characterized by the rapid onset of weakness and, often, paralysis of the legs, arms, breathing muscles and face. GBS is the most common cause of rapidly acquired paralysis in the United States today, affecting one to two people in every 100,000. It is not know what causes GBS but it often follows an infectious illness.
A sensory perception (seeing, hearing, feeling, and smelling) in the absence of an outside stimulus. For example, with auditory hallucinations, the person hears voices when there is no one talking. (Definition from: Glossary of Symptoms and Mental Illnesses Affecting Teenagers at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
A disadvantage for a given individual, resulting from an impairment or disability, that, limits or prevents the fulfillment of a role that is normal, depending on age, sex, social and cultural factors, for that individual. See also disability and impairment. [definition from the United Nations Enable FAQ What is the definition of disability?]
Human-Computer Interaction
head injury
Any alteration in mental or physical functioning related to a blow to the head. Sufferers may experience coma, concussion, head trauma, intracranial bleed, loss of consciousness, neuroprotection, skull fracture, subdural hemorrhage, traumatic brain injury. See also, “TBI” (traumatic brain injury).
Human Resources
Hypertext Markup Language
Hypertext Transfer Protocol
The driving compulsion to write (or create in another media such as painting, blogging, etc.). Temporal lobe epilepsy is associated with hypergraphia. A number of prolific writers may have had temporal lobe epilepsy, including Byron, Dante, Dostoevsky, Molière, Petrarch, Poe, and Tennyson.
Information and communication technology
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Any loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological, or anatomical structure or function. See also disability and handicap. [definition from the United Nations Enable FAQ What is the definition of disability?]
An internal Website that is available only to users on the inside of a firewall or other boundary. This is usually created by an organization to provide content and services to its employees or members without allowing external people to view it.
invisible disability
Disabilities that are not outwardly apparent to others. Also known as “hidden disabilities”, these may consist of physical, mental, or psychological illnesses that make daily living a bit more difficult because others don't understand that disabilities do not always have visible signs such as wheelchairs, white canes, or crutches. The list includes arthritis, attention deficit disorder, autism, depression, diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and numerous other illnesses. It also includes many varieties of sleep disorders.
Internet Protocol
International Organization for Standardization, Geneva
Note: ISO is not an acronym. It is a Greek word that means “equal”. For more information on this see “ISO name and logo” at
Information Technology
Interactive Voice Response. This refers to systems or interfaces that react to the human voice and use it as an input device. These systems translate human speech into recognizable system commands and then react accordingly. This is most frequently seen with telephone systems that ask you to “speak” your choices or commands.
A cross-platform object-oriented general-purpose programming language.
A scripting language used in many Web pages and supported now by most browsers.
Joint Photographic Experts Group
keyboard mnemonic
A character within a label or menu item that is underlined to indicate that a keystroke-combination can select or activate the associated item. Typically the ALT key activates the mnemonic. See also, access key.
Local area network
Landry's ascending paralysis
A particularly virulent form of Guillain-Barre syndrome. The disorder often begins with a flu-like illness that brings on general physical weakness, but is then characterized by rapidly progressing paralysis that starts in the legs and arms, and may move on (ascend) to affect the breathing muscles and face. The exact cause is not known. See also Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).
language disorder
A type of impairment that affects the ability to communicate language effectively. Examples include cognitive impairments such as dyslexia or speech impediments.
Learnability is how easy it is to learn an interface. The faster a new user is able to learn and interact with an interface, the better the user learns to use the interface.
Learning disability
[1] According to U.S. federal legislation, disabilities involved in understanding or using language, manifested in impaired listening, thinking, talking, reading, writing, or arithmetic skills. Includes perceptual handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, and developmental aphasia. Compare with “learning disorders”. (Definition from: Unified Medical Language System (Psychological Index Terms) at the National Library of Medicine.)[2] Any of various disorders (as dyslexia or dysgraphia) that interfere with an individual's ability to learn resulting in impaired functioning in verbal language, reasoning, or academic skills (as reading, writing, and mathematics) and are thought to be caused by difficulties in processing and integrating information. (Definition from: MedlinePlus at the National Library of Medicine)
learning disorders
Learning disorders occur when a child's or adolescent's reading, math, or writing skills are substantially below that expected for age, schooling, and level of intelligence. Approximately 5% of students in public schools in the United States are identified as having a learning disorder. Students with learning disorders may become so frustrated with their performance in school that by adolescence they may feel like failures and want to drop out of school or may develop behavioral problems. Special testing is always required to make the diagnosis of a learning disorder and to develop appropriate remedial interventions. Learning disorders should be identified as early as possible during school years. (Definition from: Glossary of Symptoms and Mental Illnesses Affecting Teenagers at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
The ease with which written words can be read. Legibility is affected by factors such as font size and style, color contrast, line and word spacing, and the quality of the presented medium. “Legibility” differs from “readability”, which is the ease with which content can be understood (assuming it can be read).
link rot
A term used to describe the decay of links (hyperlinks) that no longer work on a Web page. This often occurs when external Web pages are moved to a different location (a new URL address) and the corresponding links that point to them are not updated to reflect this alteration.
look and feel
A term often used to refer to the more aesthetic aspects of an application's interface or front end such as image treatment, information structure, type specifications, and navigation properties. The appearance (look) and interactive style (feel) can help determine a users subjective response and attitude towards a system.
Lou Gehrig's disease
low vision
Low vision, or limited eyesight, may be caused by physical impairment (such as blurred vision, tunnel vision, or myopia) or by environmental circumstances (such as nighttime, fog, or restrictive headwear). Large fonts, good contrast, and assistive technologies can be used to help the user.
manic depression
See bi-polar disorder.
Musical Instrument Digital Interface
The quality of moving freely.
mobility impairment
A disability affecting the ability to move, manipulate objects, and interact with the physical world. Mobility impaired users include users confined to a wheelchair or bed, or to people with temporary impairments such as broken limbs. Assistive technologies and good design practice can significantly help users with mobility impairments.
motor impairment
A disability affecting the ability to control muscle movement, often limiting mobility. Examples include cerebral palsy, arthritis, paralysis, limb loss, or hands that are too large to operate an interface device. Alternative keyboards, speech input devices, and sticky keys are assistive technologies that can help users with motor impairments.
A special type of input device commonly used by people with mobility or motor impairment, that allows them to manipulate input using a stick controlled by their mouth.
Moving Picture Experts Group
Myasthenia gravis
Myasthenia gravis is a neuromuscular disorder characterized by variable weakness of voluntary muscles, which often improves with rest and worsens with activity. The condition is caused by an abnormal immune response.
natural language interface
An interface that allows a user to interact with a device or application using natural written or spoken language (such as English, French, or German) as opposed to computer language and commands.
National Center for Accessible Media
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
National Information and Library Service [Australia]
National Institutes of Mental Health
National Information Standards Organization
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Persons with OCD have obsessions and/or compulsions. An obsession refers to recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are intrusive and cause severe anxiety or distress. Compulsions refer to repetitive behaviors and rituals (like hand washing, hoarding, ordering, checking) or mental acts (like counting, repeating words silently, avoiding). The obsessions and compulsions also significantly interfere with the teen's normal routine, academic functioning, usual social activities, or relationships. (Definition from: Glossary of Symptoms and Mental Illnesses Affecting Teenagers at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
Personal computer; Program Control
Portable Document Format
Pervasive Development Disorder.
Pervasive Developmental Disorders
The manual used by physicians and mental health professionals as a guide to diagnosing disorders is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM was last revised in 1994. In this latest revision, known as the DSM-IV, five disorders are identified under the category of Pervasive Developmental Disorders: (1) Autistic Disorder, (2) Rett's Disorder, (3) Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, (4) Asperger's Disorder, and (5) Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, or PDDNOS. All types of PDD are neurological disorders that are usually evident by age 3.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD
PTSD can occur when a person experiences a shocking, unexpected event that is outside the range of usual human experience. The trauma is usually so extreme that it can overwhelm their coping mechanisms and create intense feelings of fear and helplessness. The traumatic event may be experienced by the individual directly (for example, physical or sexual abuse, assault, rape, kidnaping, threatened death), by observation (witness of trauma to another person), or by learning about a trauma affecting a close relative or friend. Whether a person develops PTSD depends on a combination of their previous history, the severity of the traumatic event, and the amount of exposure. Symptoms include:

  • Recurrent, intrusive, and distressing memories of the event
  • Recurrent, distressing dreams of the event
  • Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring
  • Intense psychological distress when exposed to reminders of the traumatic event and consequent avoidance of those stimuli
  • Numbing of general responsiveness (detachment, estrangement from others, decreased interest in significant activities)
  • Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (irritability, sleep disturbances, poor concentration, hyper-vigilance, anxiety).

(Definition from: Glossary of Symptoms and Mental Illnesses Affecting Teenagers at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)

A prototype is a model of a full-scale item or interface that is created early in the design process in order to visualize and to some degree work with the item. Prototypes help avoid the cost and time required to develop a full-scale product. In software and Website design, a prototype can be produced with partial functionality to be reviewed and tested before any Web pages or applications are built.
Psychotic disorders include severe mental disorders that are characterized by extreme impairment of a person's ability to think clearly, respond emotionally, communicate effectively, understand reality, and behave appropriately. Psychotic symptoms can be seen in patients with a number of serious mental illnesses such as depression, bi-polar disorder (manic-depression), schizophrenia, and with some forms of drug and alcohol abuse. Psychotic symptoms interfere with a person's daily functioning and can be quite debilitating. Psychotic symptoms include delusions and hallucinations. (Definition from: Glossary of Symptoms and Mental Illnesses Affecting Teenagers at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
Research and Development
Random access memory
The ease with which visual content can be read and understood. Readability is affected by factors such as the complexity and length of sentences and the difficulty of the language used. “Readability” differs from “legibility”, which is the ease with which content can be read. Visual impairments can also have a big effect on readability.
Red, green, blue
Resources of a Resource; an XML structured format
Repetitive Stress Injury
Small Business Innovative Research
A psychotic disorder characterized by severe problems with a person's thoughts, feelings, behavior, and use of words and language. Psychotic symptoms often include delusions and/or hallucinations. Delusions in schizophrenia are often paranoid and persecutory in nature. Hallucinations are usually auditory and may include hearing voices speaking in the third person, as well as to each other, commenting on the patient's deeds and actions. Schizophrenia does not mean “split personality”. Most people develop schizophrenia before 30 years of age with some having their first episode in the teenage years. (Definition from: Glossary of Symptoms and Mental Illnesses Affecting Teenagers at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
Sciatica is a condition involving pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the leg. It is caused by injury to or compression of the sciatic nerve.
Standard Generalized Markup Language
Shy-Drager syndrome
Also known as multiple system atrophy, neurologic orthostatic hypotension; Shy-McGee-Drager syndrome, and Parkinson's plus syndrome. Multiple system atrophy is a degenerative disorder characterized by the following:

  • Progressive damage to the nervous system, leading to low blood pressure when standing, difficulty urinating, and abnormal breathing during sleep
  • Muscle tremor and rigidity
  • Slow movement
  • Disrupted REM sleep patterns
Sleep Apnea
An interruption of breathing during sleep. Apnea is a Greek word that means “want of breath”. The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. In obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles of the soft palate around the base of the tongue and the uvula relax, obstructing the airway. The airway obstruction causes the level of oxygen in the blood to fall (hypoxia), increases the stress on the heart, elevates blood pressure, and prevents the patient from entering “REM sleep,” the restful and restorative stage of sleep. In other words, sleep apnea causes deprivation of quality sleep.
Special Needs
Special Needs Committee
Structured PostScript
A medical term for a condition in which there is a collection of signs (observable body changes) and symptoms (problems observed by the patient) recognizable by a doctor's exam. Individuals with a syndrome may not have all of its associated signs and symptoms, but they must have enough to be considered “diagnostic.” Conversely, because someone may display some of the signs and symptoms of a syndrome, does not necessarily mean they have it.
Scientific Workspaces of the Future
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a nondegenerative, noncongenital abuse to the brain from an external mechanical force. This may possibly lead to permanent or temporary impairments of cognitive, physical, and psychosocial functions with an associated diminished or altered state of consciousness. Sufferers may experience head injury, brain injury, head trauma, brain concussion, brain contusion, subdural hematoma, epidural hematoma, skull fractures, subarachnoid hemorrhage, or intracerebral hemorrhage. See also, “head injury”.
Telecommunications Device for the Deaf
Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication handicapped CHildren
Temporal Lobe Epilepsy
Epilepsy that is characterized by abnormal electrical activity in the temporal lobe of the brain. This activity does not cause grand mal seizures; rather, it causes unusual behaviors and patterns of cognition.
Tourette's Syndrome
Tourette's Syndrome is characterized by multiple motor tics and at least one vocal tic. A tic is a sudden, rapid movement of some of the muscles in the body that occurs over and over and doesn't serve any purpose. The location, frequency, and complexity of tics changes over time. Motor tics frequently involve the head, central body, legs, and arms. They may result in simple movements such as eye blinking, or more complex movements such as touching and squatting. Vocal tics can include sounds such as grunts, barks, sniffs, snorts, coughs, and obscenities. (Definition from: Glossary of Symptoms and Mental Illnesses Affecting Teenagers at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
Universal Design / Disability Access
Uniform Resource Locator
United States
Usability relates to the ease of use of a product such as a website. The International Standards Organisation (ISO) officially defines “usability” as “The effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which a specified set of users can achieve a specified set of tasks in a particular environment”. Usability is essentially a measure of a product's potential to accomplish the goals of the user. Usability is affected by a number of factors such as navigation, visual consistency, clearly defined processes, interface design, information architecture, etc.
user-centric design
A design that is based around the user. This is the opposite of the usual “design-centric” approach, where the design is produced without user input and then presented to them. User-centric design approaches generally provide better results because they use information from the user about what they need and what they like and then change the design accordingly. User-centered design places the user within the design process by developing a series of prototypes based on the user's needs and involving users in the review and testing of the prototypes.
visual impairment
A disability affecting the ability to see because of blindness, color blindness, or low vision (for example, darkness or tunnel vision). Assistive technologies such as Braille displays, screen readers, and screen magnifiers along with good design practices such as scalable font sizes and good color contrast can significantly help users with visual impairment.
Web navigation
The process by which a visitor can move around a Website. Good navigation plays a crucial role in enabling visitors to view more than just the home page.
World Wide Web
Pronounced “wiz-ee-wig”, this acronym stands for “what you see is what you get”.
An acronym that stands for “Extensible Markup Language” a specification developed by the W3C (World Wide Web consortium) designed especially for Web documents. It allows designers to create their own tags, enabling the definition, transmission, validation, and interpretation of data between applications and organizations. It is used to share information in a consistent way. XML is similar to HTML.
“you are here” indicator
A method of indicating a user's current whereabouts or location within a website; for example, when looking at a site map or navigation bar. The indicator can be an arrow, highlighted text, breadcrumbs, or a bounding rectangle.

Terms tools

Technical communication resources and tools for finding definitions of terms.

Last modified: May 22, 2016