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Accessibility (AODA) rules and guidelines

Accessibility overview

  • What is AODA/accessibility?

    As a public organization, UOIT has a responsibility to ensure all communications are accessible to individuals with disabilities. 

    In January 2008, the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service became law, requiring organizations to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

    The goal is to make Ontario barrier-free by 2025. 

    In keeping with provincial legislation, UOIT must be prepared to provide alternative formats of traditional communication tools. This includes written documents, reports, brochures, and forms and also extends to multimedia tools, such as videos and official UOIT websites. 

    For comprehensive information about UOIT’s Guide to Accessible Communications (covering topics such as creating accessible documents, fonts, text size, headings, margins, tables, alternative text, etc.) please consult the website. 

How to ensure your CMS content is AODA compliant

  • Images

    All images and graphics must have alternative text (alt text). Alt text is a concise description of the image.  

    When uploading images to the CMS or editing existing images, all inline metadata fields should be filled out, including the Description field. This field is used when an explicit Alt text field is not available, such as for photo galleries. 

    Screenshot: fill out metadata fields as image alt text when uploading images


    When embedding inline images in a page, the Alternate text field must be filled out. 

    Screenshot: enter alt text when embedding an image


    For example:

    Sample image: Students studying in the UOIT Library

    Acceptable alt text: “Students studying in the UOIT Library”

    Insufficient alt text: “People” or “About the library” (too short or not descriptive of the image)

    Unnecessary alt text: “Three women and one man chatting and sitting at a round table in the library with laptops, surrounded by bookshelves full of books and large glass windows” (too long)

    Images and graphics should not contain text to convey a message. Logos are acceptable in images. 

    Assistive devices such as screen readers cannot parse text within images, so the text content must be converted to an accessible format (such as a custom coded infographic), or a text-only accessible version must also be provided along with the image.

  • Links

    Link text must be descriptive and should indicate the actual name of where the link is going. Do not create a link to an unidentified “click here”. 

    Unidentified links do not help website users using assistive devices such as screen readers. In addition, screen readers have the ability to read aloud all of the links on a page (skipping the remaining content). Unidentified links such as “click here” provide no context to the user about where the link is going.

    For example:

    Correct: “For more information, view the university policies

    Incorrect: “For university policies, please click here

    A rule of thumb to use when creating links is that if the link text is removed from the context of the sentence and it still makes sense, the link text is AODA-compliant. In the above example, the link text “university policies” is still logical on its own, therefore it is AODA-compliant.

    In addition to creating descriptive link text, the Title attribute can be used to provide further information about a link. When hovering over a link, a tooltip box will appear – this is the title text. The title attribute can be a supplement to links whose link text are not descriptive enough. 

    For example:

    Screenshot: button link with descriptive title text        

    The link text of “Register now” is insufficient, so it can be supplemented by including a title of “Register for CMS Training”

  • Language

    In most cases, the language used in text copy should be easily understandable by the widest group of users, regardless of age, background, or level of education. Text content should not be unnecessarily complex or difficult to understand. 

  • Tables

    Tables should only be used for displaying data in a tabular format. Tables should not be used for layout or arranging elements on a page. Assistive devices such as screen readers cannot decipher how the table should be read (by column or by row or both). The Summary attribute should be used when creating tables to provide a description to the user of what information the table contains and its structure.

    An example summary for the table below would be "Contact information. Table of 2 columns, to be read by row. Column 1 lists names, column 2 lists phone extensions." The summary field will not appear on the page, but can be read by assistive devices like screen readers.

    Sample table:

    Contact information
    John Doe ext. 1234
    Jane Doe ext. 5678
  • Text (headings and text formatting)