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Glossary of Terms

Within the early project discussions it was agreed to collate a Glossary of Key Terms used in the project in order to have a shared language for all experts to use in relation to the work. Different sources for definitions have been used for this Glossary:

  • Existing definitions that are already in use at the international level, in particular key terms defined within:
    1. UNESCO / Microsoft ICT competency framework for teachers (2011);
    2. UNESCO IITE / Agency ICTs in Education for People with Disabilities: Review of innovative practice (2011)’
  • Key literature quotations and citations;
  • Operational definitions developed within the i-access project.

Key Terms

Accessibility – Article 9 the UN Convention defines accessibility as: ‘To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas.’ (UN, 2006, p. 7) (2)

Accessible information – within the i-access project accessible information is understood as information provided in formats which allow every learner to access its content ‘on an equal basis with others’ (UN, 2006, p.9) 

Alternative/Augmentative Communication (ACC) – extra ways of helping people who find it hard to communicate by speech or writing to communicate more easily. This can include signing and gesture (unaided systems) or books and special computers (aided systems). (International Society of Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Accessed 2 December, 2010 (2)

Assistive technologies (ATs) – ‘adaptive devices that enable people with special needs to access all manner of technical products and services. ATs cover a whole range of ICTs, from customised keyboards and speech recognition software to Braille computer displays and closed captioning systems for TV.’ ( Accessed 4 December, 2010) (2)

Design for all – a design approach to products and services, aiming to make them usable for as many people as possible. (2)

Digital – (as in digital content, digital devices, digital resources, digital technology) – essentially, another word for computers and computer technology. (Computers store and process information by converting it all to single-figure numbers – digits.) (1)

Digital divide – refers to ‘the gap between those who can benefit from digital technology and those who cannot.’ ( Accessed 1 February, 2011) (2)

Digital literacy - basic computer skills such as being able to do word-processing or go online (1) Refers to ‘the skills required to achieve digital competence. It is underpinned by basic skills in ICT and the use of computers to retrieve, assess, store, produce, present and exchange information, and to communicate and participate in collaborative networks via the Internet.’ (European Commission, 2008c, p. 4) (2)

Digital Technology – technology in which data is given numerical value. Computer based tools and products. (2)

e-accessibility – ‘overcoming the barriers and difficulties that people experience when trying to access goods and services based on ICTs.’ (European Commission (M376) 2005) (2)

e-inclusion – ‘both inclusive ICT and the use of ICT to achieve wider inclusion objectives. It focuses on participation of all individuals and communities in all aspects of the information society. e-Inclusion policy, therefore, aims at reducing gaps in ICT usage and promoting the use of ICT to overcome exclusion, and improve economic performance, employment opportunities, quality of life, social participation and cohesion.’ ( Accessed 2 December, 2010) (2)

e-learning – any forms of electronically supported learning and teaching. (2)

Enabling Technologies – within this project is considered as another term for assistive technology, which focuses more on creating opportunity then overcoming a deficit. However it should be noted that within the European Commission the focus of ‘enabling technologies’ is different: [they] enable process, goods and service innovation throughout the economy and are of systemic relevance. (p. 2) Commission Staff Working Document accompanying the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: "Preparing for our future: Developing a common strategy for key enabling technologies in the EU", Current situation of key enabling technologies in Europe. Brussels, 30.09.2009) SEC (2009) 1257 final

e-skills: (according to DG Enterprise and Industry) covers ICT practitioner skills; ICT user skills (to include digital literacy) and e-Business skills. (2)

Equal opportunities – is understood within the project to mean the same chances to take part in activities, access services, etc. with no barriers to education and equal life prospects for individuals. (2)

Equity – Defining equity, the Commission of the European Communities (2006) states that it is: ‘… viewed as the extent to which individuals can take advantage of education and training, in terms of opportunities, access, treatment and outcomes’ (p. 2). (Commission of the European Communities (2006) Communication from the Commission to the Council and to the European Parliament. Efficiency and equity in European education and training systems. Brussels, 8.9.2006 COM (2006) 481 final The OECD (2007) links equity to fairness and states that personal and social circumstances should not be an obstacle to achieving educational potential. (OECD (2007) No more failures: Ten steps to equity in education, OECD, Paris)

Inclusion – Concerns issues of gender, ethnicity, class, social conditions, health and human rights encompassing universal involvement, access, participation and achievement (Ouane, A. 2008. Creating education systems which offer opportunities for lifelong learning. Paper presented at UNESCO International Conference on Education ‘Inclusive education: the way of the future’ 48th session. Geneva, 25–28 November 2008)

Inclusive education – The UNESCO (2008) definition states that inclusive education is: ‘an on-going process aimed at offering quality education for all while respecting diversity and the different needs and abilities, characteristics and learning expectations of the students and communities, eliminating all forms of discrimination’ (p. 3). UNESCO-IBE, 2008. Conclusions and recommendations of the 48th session of the International Conference on Education. Geneva, Switzerland. UNESCO IBE.ED/BIE/ CONFINTED 48/5 UNESCO (2009) provides this definition: ‘Inclusive education is a process of strengthening the capacity of the education system to reach out to all learners ... As an overall principle, it should guide all education policies and practices, starting from the fact that education is a basic human right and the foundation for a more just and equal society.’ (p. 8)

Information – within the i-access project the term ‘information’ is extended to information in any given format - print or electronic, audio or visual - and is also extended to communication and interaction to cover, for example, the possibility of contacting an organisation to get relevant information. The project focus is on information relevant for lifelong learning. However, the recommendations of the i-access project will be equally valuable for any form of information provision.

Information Communication Technology (ICT) – ‘consists of all technical means used to handle information and aid communication, including both computer and network hardware as well as necessary software. In other words, ICT consists of IT as well as telephony, broadcast media, and all types of audio and video processing and transmission.’ ( Accessed 2 December, 2010) (2) Information and Communication Technology, which means computers, mobile phones, digital cameras, satellite navigations systems, electronic instruments and data recorders, radio, television, computer networks, satellite systems … almost anything which handles and communicates information electronically. ICT includes both the hardware (the equipment) and the software (the computer programs in the equipment). (1)

Information Society – ‘a society in which the creation, distribution and treatment of information have become the most significant economic and cultural activities... The information Society is considered as a necessary previous step to build Knowledge Societies.’ (UNESCO/IFAP, 2009, p. 20–22) (2)

Lifelong learning – describes the possibility of all ‘individuals at all stages of their lives to pursue stimulating learning opportunities’ (EC, 2007, p.2)

Special needs education – the new ISCED definition currently being discussed (as of 2011/2012), defines special needs education as an: ‘Education designed to facilitate the learning of individuals who, for a wide variety of reasons, require additional support and adaptive pedagogical methods in order to participate and meet learning objectives in an educational programme. Reasons may include (but are not limited to) disadvantages in physical, behavioural, intellectual, emotional and social capacities. Educational programmes in special needs education may follow a similar curriculum as that offered in the parallel regular education system, however they take individuals’ particular needs into account by providing specific resources (e.g. specially trained personnel, equipment, or space) and, if appropriate, modified educational content or learning objectives. These programmes can be offered for individual learners within already existing educational programmes, or be offered as a separate class in the same or separate educational institutions’. (p83).

Social exclusion – The European Commission (2004) defines social exclusion as: ‘a process whereby certain individuals are pushed to the edge of society and prevented from participating fully by virtue of their poverty, or lack of basic competencies and lifelong learning opportunities, or as a result of discrimination. This distances them from job, income and education opportunities as well as social and community networks and activities. They have little access to power and decision-making bodies and thus often feel powerless and unable to take control over the decisions that affect their day to day lives.’ Social exclusion may result from ‘rootlessness’ and migration; rural exodus; dispersed families; disorganised urbanisation; rupture of traditional society and higher levels of education required to gain employment, amongst other things. (Acedo et al., 2008) 

Social inclusion – Social inclusion is a process which ensures that those at risk of poverty and social exclusion gain the opportunities and resources necessary to participate fully in economic, social and cultural life and to enjoy a standard of living and well-being that is considered normal in the society in which they live. It ensures that they have greater participation in decision-making which affects their lives and access to their fundamental rights (as defined in the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union).

Technology – often used as another word for ICT, although strictly speaking ‘technology’ can mean almost any type of tool or applied knowledge. For example, pencil and paper, slates, blackboards and whiteboards are all types of writing technology. (1)

Universal Design – the design of products, environments, programmes and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialised design. ‘Universal Design’ shall not exclude assistive devices for particular groups of people with disabilities where this is needed. (UN, 2006) 

Web 2.0: ‘web applications that facilitate interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centred design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web. A Web 2.0 site gives its users the free choice to interact or collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where users (consumers) are limited to the passive viewing of content that was created for them. Examples of Web 2.0 include social-networking sites, blogs, wikis, video-sharing sites, hosted services, web applications ….’ ( Accessed 2 December, 2010). The term Web 2.0 is can be traced back to Tom O’Reilly and the O’Reilly Media Conference in 2004. (2)

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – ‘is an international community where Member organisations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. Led by Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and CEO Jeffrey Jaffe, W3C’s mission is to lead the Web to its full potential.’ ( Accessed 2 December, 2010) (2)