As of January 1, 2021, new web accessibility standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) come into effect for the University. The purpose of this legal standard is to ensure that the information we provide via our websites is accessible for persons with disabilities. As with all parts of the AODA, proactively removing barriers to accessing information is a legal requirement and comes with enforceable compliance measures.
Section 14 of the information and communication standards states that all websites accessible to the public and that the University directly controls must conform to Level AA (with some exceptions) of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Since 2014, all new and significantly refreshed websites have had to conform to Level A.
What this means for you
- These standards apply if you own, operate, provide content for, or procure websites that the University controls now or in the future.
- You may have already heard from our web accessibility specialist about your website. Over the past year, the AODA Office conducted audits and reviews, provided support, and delivered training.
The AODA Office currently offers training on Web Content Accessibility, Accessible Online Events, and Accessible Language via the SuccessFactors Learning platform. These tools are essential for communications staff. The University community also has access to web accessibility training sessions available through LinkedIn Learning (such as the beginner’s Accessibility for Web Design course)
- Test and review your sites
There are several free online content accessibility checkers. For example, you can use WAVE, ARC Toolkit, or axe each time you publish to ensure your page content is AODA compliant. The AODA Office also offers instruction on basic tool usage.
If you plan to update your site, include accessibility considerations from the beginning, including when engaging with an external vendor. Ensure the University’s web accessibility compliance obligations are clear.
All U of T web content must be AODA compliant. Focus on the actions that have the most impact. When reviewing your legacy PDFs, use Adobe’s Accessibility Checker to review the accessibility of the documents on your website and consider converting documents to webpages for easier maintenance and accessibility.
- Include a statement
Ensure each website has an Accessibility Statement.
- Modify processes
Web accessibility is an ongoing process that requires maintenance. Review your unit’s procurement, design, and development of websites to ensure they are accessible.
Reach out to us
For information on website compliance, advice, or an audit, please send inquiries to Chris Sabatinos, web accessibility specialist.
For general information and advice on AODA compliance, please contact Ben Poynton, AODA officer.