Information About the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

This document is meant to give determine how the AODA affects CSCF's websites. The AODA is an act that obligates Ontarian organizations to make themselves more accessible to members of the public who possess disabilities. This act contains laws that apply to the University of Waterloo and to its websites. This page outlines the most relevant of the laws that apply to the University of Waterloo's websites.

Table of Contents

How the Law Applies to Us

According to Ontario Regulation 191/11 ( section 14(4), the most pressing deadline at this point in time is that uWaterloo must conform to the most important of the accessibility guidelines by January 1, 2014. The following is the law that describes this:

(4) Designated public sector organizations and large organizations for their internet websites shall meet the requirements of this section in accordance with the following schedule:
  1. By January 1, 2014, new internet websites and web content on those sites must conform with WCAG 2.0 Level A.
  2. By January 1, 2021, all internet websites and web content must conform with WCAG 2.0 Level AA, other than,
    1. success criteria 1.2.4 Captions (Live), and
    2. success criteria 1.2.5 Audio Descriptions (Pre-recorded).

The following definitions should clarify the exact meaning of the preceding law:

Large Organization
“large organization” means an obligated organization with 50 or more employees in Ontario, other than the Government of Ontario, the Legislative Assembly or a designated public sector organization; (“grande organisation”)

Internet Website
“internet website” means a collection of related web pages, images, videos or other digital assets that are addressed relative to a common Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) and is accessible to the public; (“site Web Internet”)”

Summary of WCAG 2.0

As mentioned in the law, we must conform to WCAG 2.0 Level A requirements. WCAG 2.0, which is an acronym for "Web Content Accessibility Guidelines" is a document located at which outlines the practices that should be followed in order to make web content accessible to people with disabilities. The document is divided into 4 principles, each of which categorize a set of guidelines that help set a frame of mind that should be considered when making decisions related to accessibility. Quoted directly from the document, these include:

  • Principle 1: Perceivable - Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
    • Guideline 1.1 Text Alternatives: Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.
    • Guideline 1.2 Time-based Media: Provide alternatives for time-based media.
    • Guideline 1.3 Adaptable: Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.
    • Guideline 1.4 Distinguishable: Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.
  • Principle 2 : Operable - User interface components and navigation must be operable.
    • Guideline 2.1 Keyboard Accessible: Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
    • Guideline 2.2 Enough Time: Provide users enough time to read and use content.
    • Guideline 2.3 Seizures: Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.
    • Guideline 2.4 Navigable: Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.
  • Principle 3 : Understandable - Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
    • Guideline 3.1 Readable: Make text content readable and understandable.
    • Guideline 3.2 Predictable: Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.
    • Guideline 3.3 Input Assistance: Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
  • Principle 4: Robust - Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
    • Guideline 4.1 Compatible: Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.

Success Criteria

Each of the above guidelines provides a list of success criteria that must be satisfied for the guideline to be considered met. Each of these success criteria is given a level of priority between A and AAA, where A is the highest. The following table is a consolidation of all of the level A guidelines, which are the ones that the AODA requires that we meet before January 1, 2014. In the Reasoning for Relevance section I have often included some examples of where an issue occurs but please remember that other instances of the issue will probably exist beyond this.

Content Type Description Link to Details Potentially Requiring CSCF Attention? Reasoning for Relevance
Non-text Content All non-text content that is presented to the user has a text alternative that serves the equivalent purpose, except for the situations listed below. (non-relevant situations removed)
  • If non-text content is a control or accepts user input, then it has a name that describes its purpose. (Refer to Guideline 4.1 for additional requirements for controls and content that accepts user input.)

For example:

Every form control needs a label associated with it. Here is a very simple form:

<label for="search">Search:</label>
<input id="search" type="text" ...>
Details Yes A scan of the CF TWiki reveals that there are 39 images without images there alone. Others might exist in other webs and other CSCF pages. For more details see Pages with Images Missing Alt Text
Audio-only and Video-only (Prerecorded) For prerecorded audio-only and prerecorded video-only media, the following are true, except when the audio or video is a media alternative for text and is clearly labeled as such:
  • Prerecorded Audio-only: An alternative for time-based media is provided that presents equivalent information for prerecorded audio-only content.
  • Prerecorded Video-only: Either an alternative for time-based media or an audio track is provided that presents equivalent information for prerecorded video-only content.
Details No CSCF does not have any pre-recorded content on its websites
Captions (Prerecorded) Captions are provided for all prerecorded audio content in synchronized media, except when the media is a media alternative for text and is clearly labeled as such. Details No CSCF does not have any pre-recorded content on its websites
Audio Description or Media Alternative (Prerecorded) An alternative for time-based media or audio description of the prerecordedvideo content is provided for synchronized media, except when the media is a media alternative for text and is clearly labeled as such. Details No CSCF does not have any pre-recorded content on its websites
Info and Relationships Information, structure, and relationships conveyed through presentation can be programmatically determined or are available in text. Details Yes
Meaningful Sequence When the sequence in which content is presented affects its meaning, a correct reading sequence can be programmatically determined. Details Yes This is something that will need to be considered with any uniquely styled page. Elements styled with absolute positioning can easily violate this. We should check that the ordering of content is not modified by removing the styles from pages that use this type of positioning. I used thischrome extension to do this
Sensory Characteristics Instructions provided for understanding and operating content do not rely solely on sensory characteristics of components such as shape, size, visual location, orientation, or sound. Details No I suspect that there are no pages from CSCF that rely on the shape or size of content to relay information. (For example, "click the square button" would violate this success criterion)
Use of Color Color is not used as the only visual means of conveying information, indicating an action, prompting a response, or distinguishing a visual element. Details Yes It is possible that there are some CSCF pages that try to emphasize content using colours or something else like it. I don't suspect that there are many instances where this will be a problem, however the blink element on might violate this.
Audio Control If any audio on a Web page plays automatically for more than 3 seconds, either a mechanism is available to pause or stop the audio, or a mechanism is available to control audio volume independently from the overall system volume level. Details No I do not know of any audio content on any CSCF web pages.
Keyboard All functionality of the content is operable through a keyboard interface without requiring specific timings for individual keystrokes, except where the underlying function requires input that depends on the path of the user's movement and not just the endpoints. Details No CSCF probably does not have any content that could violate this
No Keyboard Trap If keyboard focus can be moved to a component of the page using a keyboard interface, then focus can be moved away from that component using only a keyboard interface, and, if it requires more than unmodified arrow or tab keys or other standard exit methods, the user is advised of the method for moving focus away. Details Yes There might be a keyboard trap on the edit page for TWiki topics. I can navigate to the edit field with just the keyboard but then I can't figure out how to exit without the mouse.
Timing Adjustable For each time limit that is set by the content, at least one of the following is true:
  • Turn off: The user is allowed to adjust the time limit before encountering it over a wide range that is at least ten times the length of the default setting; or
  • Adjust: The user is allowed to turn off the time limit before encountering it; or
  • Extend: The user is warned before time expires and given at least 20 seconds to extend the time limit with a simple action (for example, "press the space bar"), and the user is allowed to extend the time limit at least ten times; or
  • Real-time Exception: The time limit is a required part of a real-time event (for example, an auction), and no alternative to the time limit is possible; or
  • Essential Exception: The time limit is essential and extending it would invalidate the activity; or
  • 20 Hour Exception: The time limit is longer than 20 hours.
Details No CSCF is unlikely to have any time-sensitive content on its web pages.
Pause, Stop, Hide For moving, blinking, scrolling, or auto-updating information, all of the following are true:
  • Moving, blinking, scrolling: For any moving, blinking or scrolling information that (1) starts automatically, (2) lasts more than five seconds, and (3) is presented in parallel with other content, there is a mechanism for the user to pause, stop, or hide it unless the movement, blinking, or scrolling is part of an activity where it is essential; and
  • Auto-updating: For any auto-updating information that (1) starts automatically and (2) is presented in parallel with other content, there is a mechanism for the user to pause, stop, or hide it or to control the frequency of the update unless the auto-updating is part of an activity where it is essential.
Details No I have encountered no auto-updating or flashing content on our sites
Three Flashes or Below Threshold Web pages do not contain anything that flashes more than three times in any one second period, or the flash is below the general flash and red flash thresholds. Details Yes The automated accessibility check run by Math reported that some pages used the blink HTML element, including
Bypass Blocks A mechanism is available to bypass blocks of content that are repeated on multiple Web pages. Details Yes Screen readers are smart enough to jump to the <h1> tag on a page if the user so chooses. Assuming that a heading 1 appears just before the main content of a page, this should suffice for a bypass block. However, the scan of the faculty recruiting page shows that we have a mapped image in which there is no title, which will force non-sighted users to read each link before discovering that it might not be relevant to them.
Page Titled Web pages have titles that describe topic or purpose. Details Yes --Faculity recruiting app has been corrected of titling issue.--
Focus Order If a Web page can be navigated sequentially and the navigation sequences affect meaning or operation, focusable components receive focus in an order that preserves meaning and operability. Details No Only applies to forms, of which we have very few. For any forms that do exist, it is unlikely that programmers would let this be violated.
Link Purpose (In Context) The purpose of each link can be determined from the link text alone or from the link text together with its programmatically determined link context, except where the purpose of the link would be ambiguous to users in general. Details Yes There are likely some places on the CSCF pages where the link text is non-descriptive. For example, the words "click here" violates this success criterion on
Language of Page The default human language of each Web page can be programmatically determined. Details Yes A quick look at the source HTML of shows that the language was not set to english. This is likely a problem on other pages as well.
On Focus When any component receives focus, it does not initiate a change of context. Details No In my experience, there is no CSCF page that modifies itself depending on the object with focus.
On Input Changing the setting of any user interface component does not automatically cause a change of context unless the user has been advised of the behavior before using the component. Details No Applies to forms that change according to user input, of which CSCF has none
Error Identification If an input error is automatically detected, the item that is in error is identified and the error is described to the user in text. Details No The only form I can find on our site is and it accepts every possible input and never returns errors or alerts.
Labels or Instructions Labels or instructions are provided when content requires user input. Details Yes The form on does not seem to conform to this success criterion. The <label> tags are being used strangely. They encompass the input field and not the label text. This might confuse screen readers. According to the scan made by James, form inputs should also have titles, which are missing in most of our cases.
Parsing In content implemented using markup languages, elements have complete start and end tags, elements are nested according to their specifications, elements do not contain duplicate attributes, and any IDs are unique, except where the specifications allow these features. Details Yes Normally, the only time where CSCF would violate this is if developers make a mistake while writing a webpage. Since this criterion is also a convention of regular HTML, any developer should already be doing his/her best to avoid this style of problem. However, it is extremely common for TWiki pages to use multiple <h1> headings in a document. This will complicate things for screen readers.
Name, Role, Value For all user interface components (including but not limited to: form elements, links and components generated by scripts), the name and role can be programmatically determined; states, properties, and values that can be set by the user can be programmatically set; and notification of changes to these items is available to user agents, including assistive technologies. Details No From what I understand, there are no CSCF pages that use HTML elements in a way that is different from the expected way that people use HTML. Since default HTML meets this requirement, it will not require our attention.

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