AODA: Website Accessibility

Website accessibility falls within the information and communications standard of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Section 14 states:

“Designated public sector organizations and large organizations shall make their internet websites and web content conform with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, initially at Level A and increasing to Level AA.”

  • January 1, 2014 for Level A
  • January 1, 2021 for Level AA

For more information on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the standards, please visit the AccessON – Ministry of Community and Social Services website.

Additionally, you may visit the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 website for full details on the guidelines published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) on December 11th, 2008.

Here are some basic accessibility tips:

Any new content created must meet standards. If someone requests an accessible format of a section on your site, you must be able to provide it to them.   The key components of having accessible website content include:

  • Non text: All non-text content must have a text alternative.
  • Headings: Headings are used properly in a hierarchical fashion, and describe the topic accurate.
  • Plain language: Paragraphs and sentences are short and written in plain, concise language.
  • Images: Text is used to convey information rather than images of text if it’s possible at all. Otherwise, use the alt attribute. Text browsers and screen readers use alt text in place of images. For site navigation images, alt text is critical. Use empty double quotes as alt text for spacer images. Avoid animations.
  • Hypertext links: Use text that makes sense when read out of context. Refrain from the use of “click here.” Ensure all links have an appropriate title provided that accentuate its context.
  • Page organization: Use headings, lists, and consistent structure.
  • Tables: Make line by line reading sensible. Screen readers read from left to right, top to bottom. An example of inaccessible table design can be found on the Microsoft’s Examples of of Accessible (and Inaccessible) Web Design page.
    Summarize your table contents with the caption tag or summary attribute.
  • Content: Do not convey important information solely through colour, e.g., red text for required fields in forms. 10% of your users may be red-green colour-blind and won’t get your message if you don’t spell it out.
    Use white space aesthetically. If your text is too dense, people won’t read it. Use bullets or numbered lists for succinct bits of information.
  • Image maps: Use client-side MAP and alternative text for hotspots. Provide alternative links for navigation; do not rely solely on your image map
  • File names: Name your files in all lower-case.
  • Page title: Always include meaningful language (40-50 characters including spaces) in your title. It will improve search placement.
  • Paste from plain text:  Web content can be perceived easily when reading top to bottom in the source code.
  • Test your pages by viewing them on multiple browsers and platforms.
  • Check for dead links on a regular basis. Ensuring that your content is up to date and relevant at all times, especially when referencing external resources.
  • Make your pdf files Accessibility Compliant. See the Adobe Accessibility site for further instructions.