As of January 1st of this year, organizations
with 50 or more employees in Ontario that create new publicly
accessible websites, or that perform a significant refresh of an
existing publicly accessible website, are required to ensure that
those websites meet the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content
Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 ("WCAG 2.0") to Level A.
The new requirements come from the Integrated Accessibility
Standards, a provincial regulation made under the Accessibility for
Ontarians with Disabilities Act. These requirements apply to the
content on all new or significantly refreshed public-facing
websites, including web-based applications, that an organization
with 50 or more employees in Ontario controls directly or controls
through a contractual relationship that allows for modification of
the website. However, only web content on those new or refreshed
websites published after January 1, 2012, is required to
For the purposes of these regulations, a new website is one with
a new domain name, while a "significant refresh" of a
website means "changing more than 50% of the content, design
or technology of the website" according the Government of
Information and Communication Standards: Making your website more
accessible" guidance document. Such a refresh could be one
that produces a new look and feel to the website, changes how users
navigate around the website, or significantly changes the content
of the website. Many other changes may also be significant
The WCAG 2.0 includes three levels of compliance: Levels A, AA,
and AAA. Level AAA is the highest level of accessibility. As of
January 1, 2014, new or refreshed websites are only required to
meet Level A. Level A requirements include accessibility measures
ensuring text alternatives to non-text content;
providing captioning for pre-recorded audio content;
using methods other than relying solely on colour to
distinguish content or provide information;
providing audio controls for any automatic audio playing;
ensuring functionality is operable solely through a keyboard
providing alternatives to time-limits on user action;
ensuring readability and navigability; and
avoiding seizure-inducing content.
The full details and requirements of WCAG 2.0, including
exceptions, can be found here.
While only compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level A is mandated now, as
of January 1, 2012 the Integrated Accessibility Standards will
require that all organizations with 50 or more employees in Ontario
ensure that all of their websites and any content published after
January 1, 2012 meet the WCAG 2.0 to Level AA, with the exception
of the requirements for captions for live audio content and
captions for pre-recorded video content. It may therefore be
advisable to upgrade all websites to Level AA at this time to avoid
the need for additional future updates.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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