Glossary of Terms

Compiled by Kaizen Program
for New English Learners with Visual Limitations

from public sources, 2003

MS Word .doc version (43 kb)

accessible: Easy to approach, enter, operate, participate in, or use safely, independently and with dignity by a person with a disability; can be said of a site, facility, work environment, service, program or document. For example, computers are accessible to blind or visually-impaired users if they have screen reader software which renders computer text as audible speech, or braille displays which make computer text available as tactile braille characters, or screen-magnification systems which display text and graphics in enlarged form on a monitor screen.

accessible formats: Formats, other than regular print, for the recording or presentation of information that can be used by people who are blind or visually impaired; examples are braille, large print, and sound recording.

adaptation: Adapted material or device: A product that has been modified in some manner to assist people who are blind or visually impaired in its use. Examples are braille and large-print textbooks and calendars.

adaptive technique: A technique or method that helps a visually impaired individual perform various activities, such as reading and writing with braille or large print, and identifying coins by touch.

adaptive technology: See Assistive technology

alternate media: See accessible format.

assistive technology: Computer hardware and software and other equipment and methods used to make the environment and printed information accessible to people with visual impairments.

braille: A tactile system for reading and writing, in which specific combinations of raised dots in a six-dot configuration correspond to the printed or written characters of a given language.

enhanced print: A print adaptation using type sizes and styles that are slightly larger than regular print and simplified formatting to minimize reading ambiguities and distractions.

individual with a disability: According to federal law, a person who has an impairment that substantially limits one or more of that person’s major life activities. Major life activities are basic activities that the average person in the general population can perform with little or no difficulty, such as cleaning, feeding and dressing oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.

large print: Print that is larger (usually 18 to 24 points) and more simply formatted than that commonly found in magazines, newspapers, and books (8 to 12 points).

legal blindness: A definition of blindness that is frequently used to determine a visually impaired individual’s eligibility for governmental or various other services or benefits. A person is commonly said to be legally blind if he or she has a visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with corrective lenses or has a visual field (peripheral vision) of less than 20 degrees.

low vision device (also, low vision aid): A device, such as a magnifier or telescope, used to improve the ability of a person with visual impairment to use his or her available vision.

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped: A part of the U.S. Library of Congress that loans free reading materials on tape, on disk, or in braille or large print through a network of libraries throughout the country to individuals who are unable to read regular print books because of a visual or other disability.

orientation and mobility: The field dealing with systematic techniques that individuals who are blind or visually impaired can learn and use to orient themselves to their environment and to move and travel safely and independently.

reasonable accommodation: Modification or adjustment to a job application process or work environment that enables a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to be considered for the position or to work in the position such qualified applicant desires.

screen-magnification system: Software that electronically enlarges the information, including text characters, displayed on the computer monitor.

screen reader: A computer program that translates text characters and other information displayed on the computer screen into their aural or braille equivalents for users who are blind or visually impaired. In the former, called speech output, information from the screen reader is passed through a speech synthesizer (hardware or software as the case may be) and finally “spoken” as words, letters, symbols, etc. In the latter case, the information is passed to a braille display, which contains cells with pins corresponding tactilely to the raised dots of braille on paper.

talking book: A book, magazine, newspaper or other reading material read aloud and recorded for a blind or visually impaired listener to play back, usually on specially designed equipment, which may be in disk or cassette tape format; also referred to as an audiobook.

visual acuity: The degree of keenness or clarity of vision.

visual field: The range of what is visible, measured in spherical degrees, to a person looking straight ahead without shifting the gaze.

visual impairment: Any degree of lack of vision that affects an individual’s ability to perform everyday activities.

Kaizen Program
for New English Learners with Visual Limitations
email: kaizen ( at )