Clarify vocabulary and symbols

The semantic elements through which information is presented – the words, symbols, numbers, and icons – are differentially accessible to learners with varying backgrounds, languages, and lexical knowledge. To ensure accessibility for all, key vocabulary, labels, icons, and symbols should be linked to, or associated with, alternate representations of their meaning (e.g., an embedded glossary or definition, a graphic equivalent, a chart or map).  Idioms, archaic expressions, culturally exclusive phrases, and slang, should be translated.

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  • Pre-teach vocabulary and symbols, especially in ways that promote connection to the learners’ experience and prior knowledge
  • Provide graphic symbols with alternative text descriptions
  • Highlight how complex terms, expressions, or equations are composed of simpler words or symbols
  • Embed support for vocabulary and symbols within the text (e.g., hyperlinks or footnotes to definitions, explanations, illustrations, previous coverage, translations)
  • Embed support for unfamiliar references within the text (e.g., domain specific notation, lesser known properties and theorems, idioms, academic language, figurative language, mathematical language, jargon, archaic language, colloquialism, and dialect)
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