I joined a new company and I learned that I essentially got the job due to my past experience working with the British gov making some of their forms more accessible. This was a few years ago. I was added to many chat groups and one of them was a11y. I had no idea what it meant. I figured it was about accessibility since they were sharing articles regarding this subject. Anyway, after a bit of mental work, I figured it was short/tech/dev speak for accessibility. I still wasn't sure, though, because the next day, while having coffee, suddenly I thought ALLY! So I had to Google it and I learned what a numeronym was.

TLDR: is the a11y numeronym accessible? I was just chuckling like a weird nerd in the office about this... I don't think it would pass WCAG AAA 3.1.3 Unusual Words:

Blockquote Certain disabilities make it difficult to understand nonliteral word usage and specialized words or usage. Certain disabilities make it difficult to understand figurative language or specialized usage. Providing such mechanisms is vital for these audiences. Specialized information intended for non-specialist readers is encouraged to satisfy this Success Criterion, even when claiming only Single-A or Double-A conformance. Blockquote

I just thought a11y was completely unnecessary... And funny... I'd take this debate to Twitter but I deleted my account.

  • 1
    So, a numeronym is like leet-speak but for people who think they've grown up?
    – TripeHound
    Dec 5, 2019 at 15:05
  • 4
    numeronyms have been used by engineers for decades, we're lazy with our abbreviations. i18n and l10n (internationalization and localization) are other common numeronyms that no one would understand without researching. Dec 5, 2019 at 18:55

2 Answers 2


It is most certainly not accessible. Even if you get into a speciality field that uses these numeronyms and you start discovering them it would still take a while to learn them and they are quite difficult to remember unless you use them frequently.

Another example would be v12n that means virtualization. I find there are no means to understand it when you see it the first time.


Restricted to technical interest groups

Accessibility and value of numeronyms are restricted to technical groups where their meaning is well recognised and their shortness pays off when writing. So numeronyms within these groups may be frequently used, have the function of an exclusive code, and within this restricted areas can be regarded as accessible.

General accessibility obstacles

Screen reader may have trouble pronouncing these numeronyms. Also modern speech to text interfaces won't know their meaning. For example dictating a11y will be texted as a 11 y whereas accessibility won't be coded to a11y but written in full length.

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