User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0

14 July 2001

4. Glossary

This glossary is normative. Some terms (or parts of explanations of terms) may not have an impact on conformance.

Note: In this document, glossary terms generally link to the corresponding entries in this section. These terms are also highlighted through style sheets and identified as glossary terms through markup.

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In this document, the verb "to activate" means (depending on context) either:

The effect of activation depends on the type of enabled element or user interface control. For instance, when a link is activated, the user agent generally retrieves the linked Web resource. When a form element is activated, it may change state (e.g., check boxes) or may take user input (e.g., a text entry field).

In this document, "to alert" means to make the user aware of some event, without requiring acknowledgement. For example, the user agent may alert the user that new content is available on the server by displaying a text message in the user agent's status bar. See checkpoint 1.3 for requirements about alerts.
In this document, an "animation" refers to content that, when rendered, creates a visual movement effect automatically (i.e., without manual user interaction). This definition of animation includes video and animated images. Animation techniques include:
An applet is a program (generally written in the Java programming language) that is part of content, and that the user agent executes.
Application Programming Interface (API), conventional input/output/device API
An application programming interface (API) defines how communication may take place between applications.

Implementing APIs that are independent of a particular operating environment (as are the W3C DOM Level 2 specifications) may reduce implementation costs for multi-platform user agents and promote the development of multi-platform assistive technologies. Implementing conventional APIs for a particular operating environment may reduce implementation costs for assistive technology developers who wish to interoperate with more than one piece of software running on that operating environment.

A "device API" defines how communication may take place with an input or output device such as a keyboard, mouse, video card, etc.

In this document, an "input/output API" defines how applications or devices communicate with a user agent. As used in this document, input and output APIs include, but are not limited to, device APIs. Input and output APIs also include more abstract communication interfaces than those specified by device APIs. A "conventional input/output API" is one that is expected to be implemented by software running on a particular operating environment. For example, on desktop computers today, the conventional input APIs are for the mouse and keyboard. For touch screen devices or mobile devices, conventional input APIs may include stylus, buttons, voice, etc. The graphical display and sound card are considered conventional ouput devices for a graphical desktop computer environment, and each has an associated API.

Assistive technology
In the context of this document, an assistive technology is a user agent that:
  1. relies on services (such as retrieving Web resources, parsing markup, etc.) provided by one or more other "host" user agents. Assistive technologies communicate data and messages with host user agents by using and monitoring APIs.
  2. provides services beyond those offered by the host user agents to meet the requirements of users with disabilities. Additional services include alternative renderings (e.g., as synthesized speech or magnified content), alternative input methods (e.g., voice), additional navigation or orientation mechanisms, content transformations (e.g., to make tables more accessible), etc.

For example, screen reader software is an assistive technology because it relies on browsers or other software to enable Web access, particularly for people with visual and learning disabilities.

Examples of assistive technologies that are important in the context of this document include the following:

Beyond this document, assistive technologies consist of software or hardware that has been specifically designed to assist people with disabilities in carrying out daily activities, e.g., wheelchairs, reading machines, devices for grasping, text telephones, vibrating pagers, etc. For example, the following very general definition of "assistive technology device" comes from the (U.S.) Assistive Technology Act of 1998 [AT1998]:

Any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.

This document uses the term "attribute" in the XML sense: an element may have a set of attribute specifications (refer to the XML 1.0 specification [XML] section 3).
In this document, the term "audio" refers to content that encodes pre-recorded sound.
Audio-only presentation
An audio-only presentation is content consisting exclusively of one or more audio tracks presented concurrently or in series. Examples of an audio-only presentation include a musical performance, a radio-style news broadcast, and a narration.
Audio track
An audio object is content rendered as sound through an audio viewport. An audio track is an audio object that is intended as a whole or partial presentation. An audio track may, but is not required to, correspond to a single audio channel (left or right audio channel).
Auditory description
An auditory description (sometimes, "audio description") is either a prerecorded human voice or a synthesized voice (recorded or generated dynamically) describing the key visual elements of a movie or other animation. The auditory description is synchronized with (and possibly included as part of) the audio track of the presentation, usually during natural pauses in the audio track. Auditory descriptions include information about actions, body language, graphics, and scene changes.
Author styles
Authors styles are style property values that come from content (e.g., style sheets within a document, that are associated with a document, or that are generated by a server).
Captions (sometimes, "closed captions") are text transcripts that are synchronized with other audio tracks or visual tracks. Captions convey information about spoken words and non-spoken sounds such as sound effects. They benefit people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, and anyone who cannot hear the audio (e.g., someone in a noisy environment). Captions are generally rendered graphically above, below, or superimposed over video. Note: Other terms that include the word "caption" may have different meanings in this document. For instance, a "table caption" is a title for the table, often positioned graphically above or below the table. In this document, the intended meaning of "caption" will be clear from context.
Character encoding
A "character encoding" is a mapping from a character set definition to the actual code units used to represent the data. Please refer to the Unicode specification [UNICODE] for more information about character encodings. Refer to "Character Model for the World Wide Web" [CHARMOD] for additional information about characters and character encodings.
Collated text transcript
A collated text transcript is a text equivalent of a movie or other animation. More specifically, it is the combination of the text transcript of the audio track and the text equivalent of the visual track. For example, a collated text transcript typically includes segments of spoken dialogue interspersed with text descriptions of the key visual elements of a presentation (actions, body language, graphics, and scene changes). See also the definitions of text transcript and auditory description. Collated text transcripts are essential for individuals who are deaf-blind.
Conditional content
Conditional content is content that, by format specification, should be made available to users through the user interface, generally under certain conditions (e.g., based on user preferences or operating environment limitations). Some examples of conditional content mechanisms include:

Specifications vary in how completely they define how and when to render conditional content. For instance, the HTML 4 specification includes the rendering conditions for the "alt" attribute, but not for the "title" attribute. The HTML 4 specification does indicate that the "title" attribute should be available to users through the user interface ("Values of the title attribute may be rendered by user agents in a variety of ways...").

Note: The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 requires that authors provide text equivalents for non-text content. This is generally done by using the conditional content mechanisms of a markup language. Since conditional content may not be rendered by default, the current document requires the user agent to provide access to unrendered conditional content (checkpoint 2.3 and checkpoint 2.9) as it may have been provided to promote accessibility.

Configure, control
In the context of this document, the verbs "to control" and "to configure" share in common the idea of governance such as a user may exercise over interface layout, user agent behavior, rendering style, and other parameters required by this document. Generally, the difference in the terms centers on the idea of persistence. When a user makes a change by "controlling" a setting, that change usually does not persist beyond that user session. On the other hand, when a user "configures" a setting, that setting typically persists into later user sessions. Furthermore, the term "control" typically means that the change can be made easily (such as through a keyboard shortcut) and that the results of the change occur immediately, whereas the term "configure" typically means that making the change requires more time and effort (such as making the change via a series of menus leading to a dialog box, via style sheets or scripts, etc.) and that the results of the change may not take effect immediately (e.g., due to time spent reinitializing the system, initiating a new session, rebooting the system). In order to be able to configure and control the user agent, the user needs to be able to "read" as well as "write" values for these parameters. Configuration settings may be stored in a profile. The range and granularity of the changes that can be controlled or configured by the user may depend on limitations of the operating environment or hardware.

Both configuration and control may apply at different "levels": across Web resources (i.e., at the user agent level, or inherited from the operating environment), to the entirety of a Web resource, or to components of a Web resource (e.g., on a per-element basis).

A global configuration is one that applies across elements of the same Web resource, as well as across Web resources. A global configuration may be implemented by more than one setting (e.g., per component of the user agent). For instance, when a user agent consists of a browser that renders HTML and a plug-in that renders SVG, to satisfy the global configuration requirements of this document, the browser may provide one setting and the plug-in another.

User agents may allow users to choose configurations based on various parameters, such as hardware capabilities, natural language, etc.

Note: In this document, the noun "control" refers to a component of the user agent user interface.

In this specification, the noun "content" is used in three ways:
  1. It is used to mean the document object as a whole or in parts.
  2. It is used to mean the content of an HTML or XML element, in the sense employed by the XML 1.0 specification ([XML], section 3.1): "The text between the start-tag and end-tag is called the element's content." Context should indicate that the term content is being used in this sense.
  3. It is used in the context of the phrases non-text content and text content.

Empty content is either a null value or a string consisting of zero characters. For instance, in HTML, "alt=''" sets the value of the "alt" attribute to the empty string. In some markup languages, an element may have empty content (e.g., the HR element in HTML).

Device-independence refers to the ability to make use of software with any appropriate supported input or output device.
Document object, Document Object Model (DOM)
In general usage, the term "document object" refers to the user agent's representation of data (e.g., a document). This data generally comes from the document source, but may also be generated (from style sheets, scripts, transformations, etc.), produced as a result of preferences set within the user agent, added as the result of a repair performed automatically by the user agent, etc. Some data that is part of the document object is routinely rendered (e.g., in HTML, what appears between the start and end tags of elements and the values of attributes such as "alt", "title", and "summary"). Other parts of the document object are generally processed by the user agent without user awareness, such as DTD- or schema-defined names of element types and attributes, and other attribute values such as "href", "id", etc. These guidelines require that users have access to both kinds of data through the user interface. Most of the requirements of this document apply to the document object after its construction. However, a few checkpoints (e.g., checkpoint 2.7 and checkpoint 2.11) may affect the construction of the document object.

A "document object model" is the abstraction that governs the construction of the user agent's document object. The document object model employed by different user agents may vary in implementation and sometimes in scope. This specification requires that user agents implement the APIs defined in Document Object Model (DOM) Level 2 Specifications ([DOM2CORE] and [DOM2STYLE]) for access to HTML, XML, and CSS content. These DOM APIs allow authors to access and modify the content via a scripting language (e.g., JavaScript) in a consistent manner across different scripting languages. As a standard interface, the DOM APIs make it easier not just for authors, but for assistive technology developers to extract information and render it in ways most suited to the needs of particular users.

Document character set
A document character set (a concept taken from SGML) is a sequence of abstract characters that may appear in Web content represented in a particular format (such as HTML, XML, etc.). A document character set consists of: For instance, the character set required by the HTML 4 specification [HTML4] is defined in the Unicode specification [UNICODE]. Refer to "Character Model for the World Wide Web" [CHARMOD] for more information about document character sets.
Document source, text source
In this document, the term "document source" refers to the data that the user agent receives as the direct result of a request for a Web resource (e.g., as the result of an HTTP/1.1 [RFC2616] "GET", or as the result of viewing a resource on the local file system). The document source generally refers to the "payload" of the user agent's request, and doesn't generally include information exchanged as part of the transfer protocol. The document source is data that is prior to any repair by the user agent (e.g., prior to repairing invalid markup). "Text source" refers to document source that is composed of text.
Documentation refers to information that supports the use of a user agent. This information may be found in manuals, installation instructions, the help system, tutorials, etc. Documentation may be distributed (e.g., some parts may be delivered on CD-ROM, others on the Web). Refer to guideline 12 for information about documentation requirements.
Element, element type,
This document uses the terms "element" and "element type" in the sense employed by the XML 1.0 specification ([XML], section 3): an element type is a syntactic construct of a Document Type Definition (DTD) for its application. This sense is also relevant to structures defined by XML schemas. The document also uses the term "element" more generally to mean a type of content (such as video or sound) or a logical construct (such as a header or list).
Enabled element, disabled element
An enabled element is a piece of content with associated behaviors that may be activated through the user interface or through an API. The set of elements that a user agent enables is generally derived from, but is not limited to, the set of interactive elements defined by implemented markup languages.

Some elements may only be enabled elements for part of a user session. For instance, an element may be disabled by a script as the result of user interaction. Or, an element may only be enabled during a given time period (e.g., during part of a SMIL 1.0 [SMIL] presentation). Or, the user may be viewing content in "read-only" mode, which may disable some elements.

A disabled element is a piece of content that is potentially an enabled element, but is not in the current session. Generally, disabled elements will be interactive elements that are not enabled in the current session. This document distinguishes disabled elements (not currently enabled) from non-interactive elements (never enabled).

For the requirements of this document, user selection does not constitute user interaction with enabled elements. See the definition of content focus.

Note: Enabled and disabled elements come from content; they are not part of the user agent user interface.

Note: The term "active element" is not used in this document since it may suggest several different concepts, including: interactive element, enabled element, an element "in the process of being activated" (which is the meaning of ':active' in CSS2 [CSS2], for example).

Equivalent (for content)
The term "equivalent" is used in this document as it is used in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10]:

Content is "equivalent" to other content when both fulfill essentially the same function or purpose upon presentation to the user. In the context of this document, the equivalent must fulfill essentially the same function for the person with a disability (at least insofar as is feasible, given the nature of the disability and the state of technology), as the primary content does for the person without any disability.

Equivalents include text equivalents (e.g., text equivalents for images; text transcripts for audio tracks; collated text transcripts for multimedia presentations and animations) and non-text equivalents (e.g., a prerecorded auditory description of a visual track of a movie, or a sign language video rendition of a written text, etc.).

Each markup language defines its own mechanisms for specifying conditional content, and these mechanisms may be used by authors to provide text equivalents. For instance, in HTML 4 [HTML4] or SMIL 1.0 [SMIL], authors may use the "alt" attribute to specify a text equivalent for some elements. In HTML 4, authors may provide equivalents (or portions of equivalents) in attribute values (e.g., the "summary" attribute for the TABLE element), in element content (e.g., OBJECT for external content it specifies, NOFRAMES for frame equivalents, and NOSCRIPT for script equivalents), and in prose. Please consult the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10] and its associated Techniques document [WCAG10-TECHS] for more information about equivalents.

Events and scripting, event handler
User agents often perform a task when an event occurs that is due to user interaction (e.g., document loading, mouse motion or a key press, a request from the operating environment, etc.). Some markup languages allow authors to specify that a script, called an event handler, be executed when the event occurs. An event handler is "explicitly associated with an element" when the event handler is associated with that element through markup or the DOM. The term "event bubbling" describes a programming style where a single event handler dispatches events to more than one element. In this case, the event handlers are not explicitly associated with the elements receiving the events (except for the single element that dispatches the events).

Note: The combination of HTML, style sheets, the Document Object Model (DOM) and scripting is commonly referred to as "Dynamic HTML" or DHTML. However, as there is no W3C specification that formally defines DHTML, this document only refers to event handlers and scripts.

Explicit user request
In this document, the term "explicit user request" refers to any user interaction with a control provided by the user agent user interface (not those in content), the focus, or selection. Control behavior should be documented.

Some examples of explicit user requests include when the user selects "New viewport", responds "Yes" to a prompt in the user agent's user interface, configures the user agent to behave in a certain way, or changes the selection or focus with the keyboard or pointing device.

Note: Users make mistakes. For example, a user may inadvertently respond "yes" to a prompt when they meant "no." In this document, this type of mistake is still considered an explicit user request.

Fee link
For the purpose of this document, the term "fee link" refers to a link that when activated, debits the user's electronic "wallet" (generally, a "micropayment"). The link's role as a fee link is identified through markup (in a manner that the user agent can recognize). This definition of fee link excludes payment mechanisms (e.g., some form-based credit card transactions) that cannot be recognized by the user agent as causing payments. For more information about fee links, refer to "Common Markup for micropayment per-fee-links" [MICROPAYMENT].
Focus, content focus, user interface focus, current focus
In this document, the term "content focus" refers to a user agent mechanism that satisfies all of the following properties:
  1. It designates zero or one element in content that is either enabled or disabled. (In general, the focus should only designate enabled elements, but it may also designate disabled elements.)
  2. The user may "set" content focus (programmatically or through the user interface) on an enabled element without triggering the associated behaviors.
  3. It has state. The user may prefer to always move the content focus manually from one element to another.
  4. It may be used (programmatically or through the user interface) to trigger the behaviors associated with an enabled element. This is generally implemented by making the focus respond to input device events (often just keyboard events).

User interface mechanisms may resemble content focus, but do not satisfy all of the properties. For example, text editors often implement a "caret" that indicates the current location of text input or editing. The caret may have state and may respond to input device events, but it does not enable users to activate the behaviors associated with enabled elements.

The user interface focus shares the properties of the content focus except the first: the user interface focus designates zero or one control of the user agent user interface that has associated behaviors (e.g., radio button, text box, menu, etc.).

On the screen, the content focus may be highlighted using colors, fonts, graphics, magnification, etc. The content focus may also be highlighted when rendered as synthesized speech, for example through changes in speech prosody. The dimensions of the rendered content focus may exceed those of the viewport.

In this document, each viewport is expected to have at most one content focus and at most one user interface focus. This document includes requirements for content focus only, for user interface focus only, and for both. When a requirement refers to both, the term "focus" is used.

When several viewports coexist, at most one viewport's content focus or user interface focus responds to input events; this is called the current focus.

In this document, the term "graphical" refers to information (text, colors, graphics, images, animations, etc.) rendered for visual consumption.
In this document, "to highlight" means to emphasize through the user interface. For example, user agents highlight which content is selected or focused. Graphical highlight mechanisms include dotted boxes, underlining, and reverse video. Synthesized speech highlight mechanisms include alterations of voice pitch and volume ("speech prosody").
In this document, an "image" refers to content that encodes static (i.e., unmoving) visual information. See also the definition of animation.
Input configuration
An input configuration is the mapping of user agent functionalities to some user interface input mechanisms (e.g., menus, buttons, keyboard keys, voice commands, etc.). The default input configuration is the mapping the user finds after installation of the software; it must be documented (per checkpoint 12.3]). Input configurations may be affected by author-specified bindings (e.g., through the "accesskey" attribute of HTML 4 [HTML4]).
Interactive element, non-interactive element,
An interactive element is piece of content that, by specification, may have associated behaviors to be executed or carried out as a result of user or programmatic interaction. For instance, the interactive elements of HTML 4 [HTML4] include: links, image maps, form elements, elements with a value for the "longdesc" attribute, and elements with event handlers explicitly associated with them (e.g., through the various "on" attributes). The role of an element as an interactive element is subject to applicability. A non-interactive element is an element that, by format specification, does not have associated behaviors. The expectation of this document is that interactive elements become enabled elements in some sessions, and non-interactive elements never become enabled elements.
Natural language
Natural language is spoken, written, or signed human language such as French, Japanese, and American Sign Language. On the Web, the natural language of content may be specified by markup or HTTP headers. Some examples include the "lang" attribute in HTML 4 ([HTML4] section 8.1), the "xml:lang" attribute in XML 1.0 ([XML], section 2.12), the HTML 4 "hreflang" attribute for links in HTML 4 ([HTML4], section 12.1.5), the HTTP Content-Language header ([RFC2616], section 14.12) and the Accept-Language request header ([RFC2616], section 14.4). See also the definition of script.
Normative, informative
As used in this document, the term "normative" refers to "that on which the requirements of this document depend for their most precise statement." What is normative is required for conformance (though the conformance scheme of this document allows claimants to exempt certain normative provisions as long as the claim discloses the exemption). What is identified as "informative" (sometimes, "non-normative") is never required for conformance.
Operating environment
The term "operating environment" refers to the environment that governs the user agent's operation, whether it is an operating system or a programming language environment such as Java.
In this document, the term "override" means that one configuration or behavior preference prevails over another. Generally, the requirements of this document involve user preferences prevailing over author preferences and user agent default settings and behaviors. Preferences may be multi-valued in general (e.g., the user prefers blue over red or yellow), and include the special case of two values (e.g., turn on or off blinking text content).
A placeholder is content generated by the user agent to replace author-supplied content. A placeholder may be generated as the result of a user preference (e.g., to not render images) or as repair content (e.g., when an image cannot be found). Placeholders can be any type of content, including text, images, and audio cues.

This document includes requirements that the user be able to view the original author-supplied content associated with a placeholder. To satisfy these requirements, the user agent might render the content in place of the placeholder or in a separate viewport (leaving the placeholder as is). A request to view the original content associated with a placeholder is considered an explicit user request to render that content.

This document does not require user agents to include placeholders in the document object. A placeholder that is inserted in the document object should conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10]. If a placeholder is not part of the document object, it is part of the user interface only (and subject, for example, to checkpoint 1.3).

A plug-in is a program that runs as part of the user agent and that is not part of content. Users generally choose to include or exclude plug-ins from their user agent.
Point of regard
The point of regard is a position in rendered content that the user is presumed to be viewing. The dimensions of the point of regard may vary. For example, it may be a point (e.g., a moment in an audio rendering or a cursor in a graphical rendering), or a range of text (e.g., focused text), or a two-dimensional area (e.g., content rendered through a two-dimensional graphical viewport). The point of regard is almost always within the viewport, but it may exceed the spatial or temporal dimensions of the viewport (see the definition of rendered content for more information about viewport dimensions). The point of regard may also refer to a particular moment in time for content that changes over time (e.g., an audio-only presentation). User agents may determine the point of regard in a number of ways, including based on viewport position in content, content focus, selection, etc. A user agent should not change the point of regard unexpectedly as this may disorient the user.
A profile is a named and persistent representation of user preferences that may be used to configure a user agent. Preferences include input configurations, style preferences, natural language preferences, etc. In operating environments with distinct user accounts, profiles enable users to reconfigure software quickly when they log on, and profiles may be shared by several users. Platform-independent profiles are useful for those who use the same user agent on different platforms.
In this document, "to prompt" means to require input from the user. The user agent should allow users to configure how they wish to be prompted. For instance, for a user agent functionality X, configurations might include: always prompt me before doing X, always do X without prompting me, never do X but tell me when you could have, never do X and never tell me that you could have, etc.
Properties, values, and defaults
A user agent renders a document by applying formatting algorithms and style information to the document's elements. Formatting depends on a number of factors, including where the document is rendered: on screen, on paper, through loudspeakers, on a braille display, on a mobile device, etc. Style information (e.g., fonts, colors, synthesized speech prosody, etc.) may come from the elements themselves (e.g., certain font and phrase elements in HTML), from style sheets, or from user agent settings. For the purposes of these guidelines, each formatting or style option is governed by a property and each property may take one value from a set of legal values. Generally in this document, the term "property" has the meaning defined in CSS 2 ([CSS2], section 3). A reference to "styles" in this document means a set of style-related properties.
The value given to a property by a user agent when it is installed is called the property's default value.
Authors encode information in markup languages, style sheet languages, scripting languages, protocols, etc. When the information is encoded in a manner that allows the user agent to process it with certainty, the user agent can "recognize" the information. For instance, HTML allows authors to specify a heading with the H1 element, so a user agent that implements HTML can recognize that content as a heading. If the author creates headings using a visual effect alone (e.g., by increasing the font size), then the author has encoded the heading in a manner that does not allow the user agent to recognize it as a heading.

Some requirements of this document depend on content roles, content relationships, timing relationships, and other information supplied by the author. These requirements only apply when the author has encoded that information in a manner that the user agent can recognize. See the section on conformance for more information about applicability.

In practice, user agents will rely heavily on information that the author has encoded in a markup language or style sheet language. On the other hand, behaviors, style, meaning encoded in a script, and markup in an unfamiliar XML namespace may not be recognized by the user agent as easily or at all. The Techniques document [UAAG10-TECHS] lists some markup known to affect accessibility that user agents can recognize.

Rendered content, rendered text
Rendered content is the part of content that the user agent makes available to the user's senses of sight and hearing (and only those senses for the purposes of this document). Any content that causes an effect that may be perceived through these senses constitutes rendered content. This includes text characters, images, style sheets, scripts, and anything else in content that, once processed, may be perceived through sight and hearing.

The term "rendered text" refers to text content that is rendered in a way that communicates information about the characters themselves, whether visually or as synthesized speech.

In the context of this document, "invisible content" is content that influences graphical rendering of other content but is not rendered itself. Similarly, "silent content" is content that influences audio rendering of other content but is not rendered itself. Neither invisible nor silent content is considered rendered content.
Repair content, repair text
In this document, the term "repair content" refers to content generated by the user agent in order to correct an error condition. "Repair text" means repair content consisting only of text. Some error conditions that may lead to the generation of repair content include:

This document does not require user agents to include repair content in the document object. Repair content inserted in the document object should conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10]. For more information about repair techniques for Web content and software, refer to "Techniques for Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" [ATAG10-TECHS].

In this document, the term "script" almost always refers to a scripting (programming) language used to create dynamic Web content. However, in checkpoints referring to the written (natural) language of content, the term "script" is used as in Unicode [UNICODE] to mean "A collection of symbols used to represent textual information in one or more writing systems."

Information encoded in scripts may be difficult for a user agent to recognize For instance, a user agent is not expected to recognize that, when executed, a script will calculate a factorial. The user agent will be able to recognize some information in a script by virtue of implementing the scripting language or a known program library (e.g., the user agent is expected to recognize when a script will open a viewport or retrieve a resource from the Web).

Selection, current selection
In this document, the term "selection" refers to a user agent mechanism for identifying a range of content (e.g., text, images, etc.). Generally, user agents limit selection to text content (e.g., one or more fragments of text). The selection may be structured (based on the document tree) or unstructured (e.g., text-based). The range may be empty.

On the screen, the selection may be highlighted using colors, fonts, graphics, magnification, etc. The selection may also be highlighted when rendered as synthesized speech, for example through changes in speech prosody. The dimensions of the rendered selection may exceed those of the viewport.

The selection may be used for a variety of purposes: for cut and paste operations, to designate a specific element in a document for the purposes of a query, as an indication of point of regard, etc.

The selection has state. It may be set programmatically or through the user interface.

In this document, each viewport is expected to have at most one selection. When several viewports coexist, at most one viewport's selection responds to input events; this is called the current selection.

See the section on the selection label for information about implementing a selection and conformance.

Note: Some user agents may also implement a selection for designating a range of information in controls of the user agent user interface. The current document only includes requirements for a content selection mechanism.

Support, implement, conform
In this document, the terms "support", "implement", and "conform" all refer to what a developer has designed a user agent to do, but they represent different degrees of specificity. A user agent "supports" general classes of objects, such as "images" or "Japanese". A user agent "implements" a specification (e.g., the PNG and SVG image format specifications, a particular scripting language, etc.) or an API (e.g., the DOM API) when it has been programmed to follow all or part of a specification. A user agent "conforms to" a specification when it implements the specification and satisfies its conformance criteria. This document includes some conformance requirements to other specifications (e.g., to a particular level of the "Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" [WCAG10]).
In this document, "to synchronize" refers to the time-coordination of two or more presentation components (e.g., in a multimedia presentation, a visual track with captions). For Web content developers, the requirement to synchronize means to provide the data that will permit sensible time-coordinated rendering by a user agent. For example, Web content developers can ensure that the segments of caption text are neither too long nor too short, and that they map to segments of the visual track that are appropriate in length. For user agent developers, the requirement to synchronize means to present the content in a sensible time-coordinated fashion under a wide range of circumstances including technology constraints (e.g., small text-only displays), user limitations (slow reading speeds, large font sizes, high need for review or repeat functions), and content that is sub-optimal in terms of accessibility.
In this document, the term "text" used by itself refers to a sequence of characters from a markup language's document character set. Refer to the "Character Model for the World Wide Web " [CHARMOD] for more information about text and characters. Note: This document makes use of other terms that include the word "text" that have highly specialized meanings: collated text transcript, non-text content, text content, non-text element, text element, text equivalent, and text transcript.
Text content, non-text content, text element, non-text element, text equivalent non-text equivalent
As used in this document a "text element" adds text characters to either content or the user interface. Both in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 [WCAG10] and in this document, text elements are presumed to produce text that can be understood when rendered visually, as synthesized speech, or as Braille. Such text elements benefit at least these three groups of users:
  1. visually-displayed text benefits users who are deaf and adept in reading visually-displayed text;
  2. synthesized speech benefits users who are blind and adept in use of synthesized speech;
  3. braille benefits users who are blind, and possibly deaf-blind, and adept at reading braille.

A text element may consist of both text and non-text data. For instance, a text element may contain markup for style (e.g., font size or color), structure (e.g., heading levels), and other semantics. The essential function of the text element should be retained even if style information happens to be lost in rendering.

A user agent may have to process a text element in order to have access to the text characters. For instance, a text element may consist of markup, it may be encrypted or compressed, or it may include embedded text in a binary format (e.g., JPEG).

"Text content" is content that is composed of one or more text elements. A "text equivalent" (whether in content or the user interface) is an equivalent composed of one or more text elements. Authors generally provide text equivalents for content by using the conditional content mechanisms of a specification.

A "non-text element" is an element (in content or the user interface) that does not have the qualities of a text element. "Non-text content" is composed of one or more non-text elements. A "non-text equivalent" (whether in content or the user interface) is an equivalent composed of one or more non-text elements.

Note that the terms "text element" and "non-text element" are defined by the characteristics of their output (e.g., rendering) rather than those of their input (e.g., information sources) or their internals (e.g., format). Both text elements and non-text elements should be understood as "pre-rendering" content in contrast to the "post-rendering" content that they produce.

Text decoration
In this document, a "text decoration" is any stylistic effect that the user agent may apply to visually rendered text that does not affect the layout of the document (i.e., does not require reformatting when applied or removed). Text decoration mechanisms include underline, overline, and strike-through.
Text transcript
A text transcript is a text equivalent of audio information (e.g., an audio-only presentation or the audio track of a movie or other animation). It provides text for both spoken words and non-spoken sounds such as sound effects. Text transcripts make audio information accessible to people who have hearing disabilities and to people who cannot play the audio. Text transcripts are usually pre-written but may be generated on the fly (e.g., by voice-to-text converters). See also the definitions of captions and collated text transcripts.
User agent
In this document, the term "user agent" is used in two ways:
  1. Any software that retrieves and renders Web content for users. This may include Web browsers, media players, plug-ins, and other programs – including assistive technologies -- that help in retrieving and rendering Web content.
  2. The subject of a conformance claim to this document. This is the most common use of the term in this document and is the usage in the checkpoints.
User agent default styles
User agent default styles are style property values applied in the absence of any author or user styles. Some markup languages specify a default rendering for documents in that markup language. Other specifications may not specify default styles. For example, XML 1.0 [XML] does not specify default styles for XML documents. HTML 4 [HTML4] does not specify default styles for HTML documents, but the CSS 2 [CSS2] specification suggests a sample default style sheet for HTML 4 based on current practice.
User interface
For the purposes of this document, user interface includes both:
  1. the "user agent user interface", i.e., the controls (e.g., menus, buttons, prompts, etc.) and mechanisms (e.g., selection and focus) provided by the user agent ("out of the box") that are not created by content.
  2. the "content user interface", i.e., the enabled elements that are part of content, such as form elements, links, applets, etc.
The document distinguishes them only where required for clarity.
User styles
User styles are style property values that come from user interface settings, user style sheets, or other user interactions.
Visual-only presentation
A visual-only presentation is content consisting exclusively of one or more visual tracks presented concurrently or in series. A silent movie is an example of a visual-only presentation.
Visual track
A visual object is content rendered through a graphical viewport. Visual objects include graphics, text, and visual portions of movies and other animations. A visual track is a visual object that is intended as a whole or partial presentation. A visual track does not necessarily correspond to a single physical object or software object. A visual track may be text-based or graphic. A visual track may be static or involve animation.
Views, viewports
The user agent renders content through one or more viewports. Viewports include windows, frames, pieces of paper, loudspeakers, virtual magnifying glasses, etc. A viewport may contain another viewport (e.g., nested frames). User interface controls such as prompts, menus, alerts, etc. are not viewports.

When the dimensions (spatial or temporal) of rendered content exceed the dimensions of the viewport (e.g., when the user can only view a portion of a large document through a small graphical viewport, when audio content has already been played, etc.), the user agent provides mechanisms such as scroll bars and advance and rewind controls so that the user can access the rendered content "outside" the viewport.

When several viewports coexist, only one has the current focus at a given moment. This viewport is highlighted to make it stand out.

User agents may render the same content in a variety of ways; each rendering is called a view. For instance, a user agent may allow users to view an entire document or just a list of the document's headers. These are two different views of the document.

Voice browser
From "Introduction and Overview of W3C Speech Interface Framework" [VOICEBROWSER]: "A voice browser is a device (hardware and software) that interprets voice markup languages to generate voice output, interpret voice input, and possibly accept and produce other modalities of input and output."
Web resource
The term "Web resource" is used in this document in accordance with Web Characterization Terminology and Definitions Sheet [WEBCHAR] to mean anything that can be identified by a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI); refer to RFC 2396 [RFC2396].