In the Accessibility and Usability Lab, “programmatic” is usually an alternative to “visual” or “audible.” If a piece of information is visible or audible, it depends on human faculties to perceive it. For example, a red stop sign depends partially on the red color for people to identify it and know what it is communicating. Programmatic, on the other hand, is information that a device accesses. If a button visually looks like a stop sign, it depends on vision to communicate its purpose. However, if the button is also properly labeled “Stop,” with all the proper semantics, then the device also knows the purpose of the button. The information can be “programmatically determined.” Assistive technology largely depends on programmatic information to communicate about content to a user.

For more information, see:

A video shows when programmatic information is missing, and another video where important visual information cannot be programmatically determined.

Relevant issues from the database include: Change in Content without Audible Cue, and Expanded / Collapsed State Not Indicated where the information about a change occurring is visual, not programmatic.