Guidance on Implementing the Standard on Web Accessibility

Table of Contents

Preface

This document assists Government of Canada departments by providing tools, solutions and guidance to advance Web accessibility. It is a supporting document to be read in conjunction with the Standard on Web Accessibility.

The Guidance on Implementing the Standard on Web Accessibility provides direction to senior departmental officials (SDOs), chief information officers, heads of communications, Web managers and Web functional specialists on their respective roles and responsibilities.

In particular, SDOs are responsible for overseeing and monitoring the implementation of the direction set forward in the Standard on Web Accessibility, including specific SDO deliverables contained therein, and for ensuring that the timelines in the standard are met.

The Standard on Web Accessibility is one of three new Web standards that replace the Common Look and Feel (CLF) 2.0 standards, the others being the Standard on Web Usability and the Standard on Web Interoperability.

Section 1: Introduction - Purpose

The Guidance on Implementing the Standard on Web Accessibility is a companion piece to the Standard on Web Accessibility, providing details on the implementation of the standard over a two-year period; the roles and responsibilities; and the approaches and mechanisms that senior departmental officials, chief information officers, heads of communications, Web managers and functional specialists can use to implement the Standard on Web Accessibility. This document supports the Government of Canada's long-standing commitment to Web accessibility.

Background

The Government of Canada has taken steps to address Web accessibility since 1998, when it published an Internet guide that provided information on common resources – tools and tips – on Web accessibility. In May 2000, the government approved its own first set of Web accessibility standards known as Common Look and Feel (CLF) 1.0.

CLF 1.0 required that the websites and Web applications of all government departments comply with the internationally recognized Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG 1.0) by December 2002.

In December of 2006, CLF 1.0 was replaced by CLF 2.0 to reflect best practices and to build collectively on what had been learned from the implementation of CLF 1.0 across the wide-ranging Web communities of different government departments. CLF 2.0 came into effect on January 1, 2007. It applied to new government websites and Web applications launched after that date, but allowed for a two-year implementation timeline for websites and Web applications already in existence by December 31, 2008.

In December 2008, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international community that develops Web standards, released WCAG 2.0, which provided new Web accessibility guidelines.

The Secretary of the Treasury Board announced in January 2010 that the existing CLF 2.0 standards would be replaced by three new standards: the Standard on Web Accessibility, the Standard on Web Usability and the Standard on Web Interoperability. This announcement signalled that the Government of Canada would move toward adopting WCAG 2.0 - the most current internationally recognized guidelines on Web accessibility.

New Standard: Whole-of-Government Implementation Approach

The government departments listed under Schedules I, I.1 and II of the Financial Administration Act must make their websites and Web applications compliant with the new Standard on Web Accessibility over two years, starting with fiscal year 2011–12.

The Standard on Web Accessibility requires that deputy heads monitor adherence to the standard, including the implementation of a two-year plan. The Standard on Web Accessibility also establishes the role of senior departmental officials, who are responsible for supporting deputy heads in meeting the following compliance deadlines:

Phase 1 (, to ) applies to:

  • All home pages and pages referenced from website and Web application home pages;
  • All new Web pages of websites and Web applications published post ;
  • A significant number of Web pages of websites and Web applications that provide the most important information and services for individuals and businesses, including rights and benefits; and
  • A significant number of Web pages of websites and Web applications that are the most frequently used.

Phase 2 (, to ) applies to:

  • An additional number of Web pages of websites and Web applications that provide the most important information and services for individuals and businesses, including rights and benefits; and
  • Additional Web pages of websites and Web applications that are the most frequently used.

Phase 3 (, to ) applies to:

  • Remaining Web pages of websites and Web applications.

The above are minimum requirements. Departments are encouraged to move at a faster pace, where possible.

Section 2: Guidance for Senior Departmental Officials (SDOs)

Senior Departmental Officials (>SDOs) are responsible for supporting their deputy heads in overseeing the implementation and monitoring of the Standard on Web Accessibility within their departments. It is recommended that a single SDO support all three Web standards: the Standard on Web Accessibility, the Standard on Web Usability and the Standard on Web Interoperability. The following outlines SDO responsibilities and provides a series of recommendations as they pertain to the implementation of the Standard on Web Accessibility.

SDO Responsibilities:

SDOs are responsible for the following:

  • Overseeing the implementation of, and ongoing compliance with, the Standard on Web Accessibility within their department. This may include:
    • Coordinating and overseeing the Web accessibility activities of the chief information officer, the heads of communications and the business owners;
    • Attesting to departmental compliance with the Standard on Web Accessibility when reporting to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (Secretariat); and
    • Putting in place a department-wide Web governance mechanism to monitor progress on the department’s Web management, performance and compliance with the Standard on Web Accessibility;
  • Bringing to the deputy head’s attention any significant difficulties in implementing the Standard on Web Accessibility;
  • Identifying and addressing gaps in significant Web accessibility performance or compliance issues, and developing proposals to address them; and
  • Reporting to the Secretariat on performance issues, including compliance reporting.

To ensure leadership and oversight for the implementation of the Standard on Web Accessibility within government departments, the organizational relationships in Figure 1 are recommended.

Figure 1: Recommended Organizational Relationships
Figure 1: Recommended Organizational Relationships
Text version: Figure 1: Recommended Organizational Relationships

The recommended organizational relationships include the Senior Departmental Official, the Chief Information Officer, the business owner and the Head of Communications. The Senior Departmental Official has the lead role in relation to the Chief Information Officer, the business owner and the Head of Communications. Concurrently, the Chief Information Officer (CIO), the business owner, and the Head of Communications all work in collaboration with one another to support the Senior Departmental Official.

Note: These roles may be held concurrently. For example, the chief information officer, the business owner or the head of communications may also be the senior departmental official.

Recommendations for SDOs:

A. Web inventory: Take stock and create an inventory of the department’s public-facing websites and Web applications

Taking stock of the department’s public-facing websites and Web applications is the essential first step in implementing the Standard on Web Accessibility. The creation of a Web inventory enables SDOs to have the information they need to make strategic decisions to improve the accessibility of information and services on their department’s public-facing sites.

When completed, the inventory contains information regarding all public-facing government websites and Web applications for which the department is accountable. It also forms the basis of the department’s activities to track progress and to facilitate compliance reporting on the Standard on Web Accessibility. The Secretariat provides tools to assist government departments in reporting their compliance in order to ensure consistency in the information that is gathered.

Departments are required to provide Web inventory reports to the Secretariat annually. The SDO must approve the Web inventory report before it is submitted.

B. Scoping and prioritizing websites and Web applications

Once the Web inventory report has been developed, government departments will undertake the actions listed below. SDOs will provide oversight on all actions.

i) Scoping:
  • Determine which Web pages are redundant, outdated, and trivial (ROT), and ensure their removal from the department’s websites; and
  • Identify and archive online or offline Web pages of websites and Web applications that can be archived.
ii) Prioritization:
  • Ensure that Web pages published post , are immediately compliant;
  • Identify and make all the home pages or pages referenced from home pages compliant in Phase 1;
  • Identify the department’s Web pages that provide the most important information and services, including rights and benefits, and make compliant in Phase 1;
  • Determine whether the site is one of the department’s most frequently visited Web pages and make compliant in Phase 1; and
  • Prioritize the remaining Web pages for compliance within two years.

Figure 2 illustrates the above recommendations in greater detail.

Figure 2: Scoping and Prioritization - Assistance in Decision-making
Figure 2: Scoping and Prioritization - Assistance in Decision-making
Text version: Figure 2: Scoping and Prioritization - Assistance in Decision-making

Questions 1 through 3 are categorized as Scoping, and questions 4 though 6 are categorized as prioritization.

Question 1: Is the Web page redundant, outdated, or trivial? If yes, remove Web page. This is to be completed during Phase 1: by February 29, 2012. If no, proceed to question 2.

Question 2: Can the Web page be archived? If yes, archive Web page. This is to be completed during Phase 1: by February 29, 2012. If no, proceed to question 3.

Question 3: Is it a Web page published after ? If yes, make compliant. This is to be completed during Phase 1 and thereafter. If no, proceed to question 4.

Question 4: Is it a home page or a page referenced from the home page? If yes, make compliant. This is to be completed during Phase 1: by February 29, 2012. If no, proceed to question 5.

Question 5: Is it a most important information or service, including Rights and Benefits? If yes, make compliant. This is to be completed during Phase 1: by February 29, 2012. If no, proceed to question 6.

Note: It is recognized that large websites or Web applications may take longer than Phase 1 to make compliant with the Standard on Web Accessibility. Those websites that cannot be completed in Phase 1 should be staggered over Phase 2 and Phase 3.

Question 6: Is it one of the most frequently used Web pages? If yes, make compliant. This is to be completed during Phase 1: by February 29, 2012. If no, prioritize and stagger implementation in Phase 2 and 3. This is to be completed during Phase 2: by July 31, 2012 and during Phase 3: by July 31, 2013.


Table 1 provides guidance on prioritizing websites and Web applications for compliance with the Standard on Web Accessibility and on determining in which phase the work should be undertaken.

Table 1: Requirements From the Standard
Requirement Guidance
Phase 1: , to

A significant number of Web pages of websites and Web applications that provide the most important information and services for individuals and businesses, including rights and benefits.

Most Important Information and Services

This includes rights and benefits and other high-priority departmentally mandated information and services, such as government warnings, advisories and other significant notices. Examples include Canada Pension Plan benefits, weather warnings, travel advisories and health updates.

This includes rights and benefits and other high-priority departmentally mandated information and services, such as government warnings, advisories and other significant notices. Examples include Canada Pension Plan benefits, weather warnings, travel advisories and health updates.

Rights and Benefits

A right or benefit is a program or initiative made available by the Government of Canada, for which a good or service is delivered, and eligibility or application criteria have been established. Examples include child benefits, parental benefits, pension benefits, and grants and contributions.

Web pages of websites and Web applications that are the most frequently used.

Most Frequently Used Web Pages of Websites Including Web Applications

Web pages that are most frequently used are those with the highest number of page views.

Phase 2: -

Additional Web pages of websites and Web applications that provide the most important information and services for individuals and businesses, including rights and benefits.

Additional Number of Web Pages of Websites and Web Applications

A sufficiently measurable increase in the number of the department’s public-facing Web pages are made compliant in Phase 2 of the implementation of the Standard on Web Accessibility.

Additional Web pages of websites and Web applications that are the most frequently used.

Additional Number of Web Pages of Websites and Web Applications

A sufficiently measurable increase in the number of the department’s public-facing Web pages are made compliant in Phase 2 of the implementation of the Standard on Web Accessibility.

Phase 3: -

Remaining Web pages of websites and Web applications.

Remaining Web pages of websites including Web applications

All outstanding Web pages are made compliant in Phase 3.

iii) New Web pages of websites and Web applications published post , must immediately comply with the Standard on Web Accessibility.

To ensure organizational readiness, consider the following:

  • Ensure a department-wide Web governance mechanism is in place to monitor progress on the department’s Web management, performance and compliance with the Standard on Web Accessibility. A department-wide Web governance mechanism ensures that performance issues are managed across the organization and that accountability mechanisms are in place to support the department’s efforts in complying with the Standard on Web Accessibility.
  • Develop department-wide processes for identifying all Web content owners and the expected timelines for reviewing, archiving, retaining and disposing of all websites and Web applications.
  • Implement effective Web publishing and quality assurance processes to ensure that new Web pages meet Web accessibility requirements during the development process. Departments are encouraged to put in place department-wide Web publishing processes that use standardized Web practices and IT infrastructure and tools, thereby benefitting from economies of scale and maximizing the use of resources.
  • Incorporate Web accessibility in the project management life cycle (e.g., in design, planning, and quality assurance of websites and Web applications). Web application conformance has been cited as costly by many departments, partly because accessibility is not considered early in the design phase of the project management life cycle. It is much more costly to retrofit Web applications than building accessibility into products from the ground up.
  • Establish an organizational learning strategy to ensure the department has the necessary knowledge and expertise to comply with the Standard on Web Accessibility.
  • Provide training and learning opportunities to Web managers and Web functional specialists on developing websites and Web applications that comply with the Standard on Web Accessibility.

C. Compliance reporting

Departments are required to report to the Secretariat on compliance with the Standard on Web Accessibility as per the following compliance reporting schedule:

  • August, 2011
  • September 2011
  • December 2011
  • February 2013
  • Late 2013
  • Annually, as required thereafter.

Prior to requesting reports, the Secretariat will provide more details to departments on reporting requirements. SDOs are required to attest to their department’s level of compliance with the Standard on Web Accessibility.

SDOs must ensure that the department’s deliverables align with the requirements outlined in the three phases as specified in the Standard on Web Accessibility:

  • Phase 1 (, to );
  • Phase 2 (, to ); and
  • Phase 3 (, to ).

For the August 2011 reporting period, an inventory of websites and Web applications was required. For the September 2011 reporting period, departments were required to assess the compliance of sample Web pages.

For subsequent reporting periods, departments were required to update the Web inventory that they had provided to the Secretariat and provide compliance scores for new pages published post ; for home pages and pages referenced from home pages; and for all websites and Web applications for which the department is accountable.

Note that there may also be additional reporting requirements that the Secretariat will provide to departments prior to requesting reports.

Checklist for Senior Departmental Officials

In implementing the Standard on Web Accessibility, have you:

  • Taken stock of your department’s public-facing websites and Web applications?
  • Determined which Web pages are redundant, outdated and trivial (ROT) and ensured their removal from the department’s websites and Web applications?
  • Identified and archived Web pages online or offline?
  • Made the department’s new websites and Web applications, published post , immediately compliant?
  • Established concrete and actionable completion dates to meet the deliverables in Phase 1, 2 and 3?
  • Submitted a report to the Secretariat, including a Web inventory and compliance reports, as requested?
  • Considered establishing the following:
    • A department-wide Web governance mechanism that ensures progress on the department’s Web management, performance and compliance with Web accessibility?
    • Department-wide processes that identify all Web content owners and the expected timelines for reviewing, archiving, retaining and disposing of Web pages of websites and Web applications?
    • Effective Web publishing and quality assurance processes to ensure that new and updated Web pages of websites and Web applications meet Web accessibility requirements?
    • An organizational learning strategy to ensure Web managers and functional specialists have knowledge and expertise on Web accessibility?
    • Training and learning opportunities for Web managers and functional specialists so that they have the necessary knowledge to develop websites and Web applications that comply with the Standard on Web Accessibility?

Section 3: Guidance for Chief Information Officers

This section outlines the roles and responsibilities of the department’s chief information officer (CIO), or equivalent, related to implementing the Standard on Web Accessibility in the area of software and systems for websites and Web applications.

CIOs must:

  • Ensure that the websites and Web applications for which they are responsible comply with the Standard on Web Accessibility.

CIOs should consider the following guidance regarding the activities and deliverables they are responsible for:

  • Integrate Web accessibility requirements into the development of department-wide information management / information technology (IM/IT) plans to ensure that the department considers Web accessibility requirements in IM/IT decision-making processes;
  • Ensure the department’s software and systems provide the functionality necessary to meet the requirements of the Standard on Web Accessibility. Examples of software and systems may include Web content management systems or authoring tools;
  • Incorporate Web accessibility into the business requirements when developing, updating or procuring Web applications, systems, software or technologies;
  • Incorporate the use of Web metrics and identify how they will be used during the implementation of the Standard on Web Accessibility;
  • Ensure ongoing content review and management of redundant, outdated and trivial (ROT) content;
  • Ensure that archiving of Web content online or offline is carried out in accordance with the definition of “archived” in this document and with the Secretariat’s policies on information management;
  • Add the World Wide Web Consortium's draft Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0 into selection criteria when purchasing new Web authoring tools. Departments are encouraged to use the ATAG 2.0 checklist as one of many factors to be incorporated into selection criteria.

    ATAG 2.0 can help with rating an authoring tool’s ability to enable, support and guide the development of Web pages that conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0; and
  • Support the SDO by ensuring that staff have the knowledge and expertise necessary to comply with the Standard on Web Accessibility.

For relevant legislation, policies, publications and other Web-related references, consult Section 10 of the Standard on Web Accessibility..

Checklist for Chief Information Officers (CIOs)

In implementing the Standard on Web Accessibility, have you:

  • Integrated Web accessibility considerations into the development of IM/IT plans?
  • Ensured that the department’s software and systems provide the functionality necessary to meet the requirements of the Standard on Web Accessibility?
  • Incorporated Web accessibility into the business requirements when developing new or updating existing websites and Web applications?
  • Incorporated the use of Web metrics and identified how they will be used during the implementation of the Standard on Web Accessibility?
  • Ensured ongoing content review and management of redundant, outdated and trivial (ROT) content?
  • Ensured that Web pages are archived, where possible, online or offline in accordance with the definition of “archived” in this document and with the Secretariat’s policies on information management?
  • Ensured that websites and Web applications under the responsibility of the CIO conform to the Standard on Web Accessibility?
  • Added the World Wide Web Consortium’s draft Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0 into selection criteria when purchasing new Web authoring tools?
  • Supported the SDO by ensuring that your staff have the knowledge and expertise necessary to comply with the Standard on Web Accessibility?

Section 4: Guidance for Heads of Communications

This section outlines the roles and responsibilities of the department’s head of communications related to implementing the Standard on Web Accessibility in the area of Web content, information architecture and visual design.

Heads of communications should consider the following best practices regarding the activities and deliverables they are responsible for:

  • Ensure that Web content, information architecture, visual design and Web applications comply with the Standard on Web Accessibility;
  • Incorporate Web accessibility criteria when selecting and procuring new communications technology;
  • Incorporate the use of Web metrics and identify how they will be used during the implementation of the Standard on Web Accessibility;
  • Ensure that websites and Web applications comply with the Standard on Web Accessibility;
  • Ensure ongoing content review and management of redundant, outdated and trivial (ROT) content;
  • Ensure that archiving of Web content online or offline is carried out in accordance with the definition of “archived” in this document and with the Secretariat’s policies on information management.
  • Support the SDO by ensuring that staff have the knowledge and expertise necessary to comply with the Standard on Web Accessibility.

For relevant legislation, policies, publications and other Web related references, consult Section 10 of the Standard on Web Accessibility..

Checklist for Heads of Communications

In implementing the Standard on Web Accessibility, have you:

  • Ensured that Web content, information architecture, visual design and Web applications comply with the Standard on Web Accessibility?
  • Incorporated Web accessibility criteria when selecting and procuring new communications technology?
  • Incorporated the use of Web metrics and identified how they will be used in the implementation of the Standard on Web Accessibility?
  • Ensured that websites and Web applications under the responsibility of the head of communications comply with the Standard on Web Accessibility?
  • Ensured that an ongoing content review and management of redundant, outdated and trivial (ROT) content is in place?
  • Ensured that Web pages of websites and Web applications are archived, where possible, online or offline in accordance with the definition of “archived” in this document and with the Secretariat’s policies on information management?
  • Supported the SDO by ensuring that staff have the knowledge and expertise necessary to comply with the Standard on Web Accessibility?

Section 5: Guidance for Managers, Functional Specialists and Equivalents Responsible for Websites and Web Applications

Managers, functional specialists and their equivalents are responsible for ensuring the compliance of websites and Web applications. This section provides guidance to assist them in managing, reviewing, developing, assessing and reporting on websites and Web applications.

A. Managing Websites and Web Applications

1. Integrate the following four points into the department’s Web publishing processes and procedures:

  • Design websites and Web applications to be compliant with the Standard on Web Accessibility from the outset;
  • Integrate the Assessment Methodologyfor the Standard on Web Accessibility into Web quality assurance mechanisms;
  • Update the Web inventory report regularly so that it reflects the removal or the creation of new Web pages. Ongoing maintenance will ensure that the SDO has the information needed to make strategic decisions about the department’s use of the Web; and
  • Incorporate Web accessibility requirements into Web-related contracts and service agreements to ensure that the department’s responsibilities are met.

2. Train managers, functional specialists and their equivalents on Web accessibility.

Training should be provided for managers, functional specialists and their equivalents on the Standard on Web Accessibility, as well as on how it relates to different technologies (e.g., PDF, JavaScript, HTML). Public and private sector courses are available. When choosing courses, ensure that they align with the Standard on Web Accessibility.

The Canada School of Public Service offers courses on the Standard on Web Accessibility and emphasize the requirements, roles and responsibilities for compliance with the standard.

3. Ensure processes are in place for adding captions to videos.

Managers should put in place necessary processes to ensure that captions, where required by the Standard on Web Accessibility, are added to public-facing videos. The standard provides for temporary video-related exclusions, including the following:

The Secretariat will provide additional information to departments regarding video captions. The guidance will include information on possible shared services arrangements; on leveraging existing capacity within departments; and on other procurement options, such as supply arrangement EN 578-092642, entitled Audio Visual Production (T009A), which can be found on the Public Works and Government Services Canada website as part of the Standing Offer Index.

B. Reviewing Websites and Web Applications

1. Remove the redundant, outdated and trivial (ROT) content from websites and Web applications.

Below are possible criteria that can be used when reviewing websites and Web applications for ROT content. Departments are encouraged to develop their own criteria for reviewing Web content for ROT, based on their own needs and resources.

Redundant:

  • Your department, organization or program is not the authoritative source for the content; and
  • The Web page is duplicated elsewhere on a website.

Outdated:

  • Orphan pages – there is either no way to navigate to the page or there is no business owner;
  • Outdated pages – topics that are no longer relevant;
  • Discontinued programs or past events;
  • Content written in the wrong tense (“will be” for a date in the past); and
  • Not Web-friendly (e.g., a list of bullets or links without any context)

Trivial:

  • The Web page is not relevant or informative for the audience;
  • Web analytics show low to no page views or visits; and
  • Title of the Web page doesn't match the content.

2. Archive Web pages where appropriate.

Departments should archive Web pages that will no longer be updated.

Definition:

An “archived Web page” is defined as Web page that is:

  • Maintained for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes;
  • Not altered or updated after the date of archiving; and
  • Stored in a digital repository.

An archived Web page may be provided on the Web, but must be clearly identified as being archived as described in the Technical Specifications for the Web and Mobile Presence.

Further guidance will be developed and issued in collaboration with Library and Archives Canada.

3. Add an Accessibility Notice.

Add an Accessibility Notice to the terms and conditions section of all websites and Web applications.

C. Developing Websites and Web Applications

1. Use the Web Experience Toolkit (WET)

Build websites and Web applications using the most recent version of the Web Experience Toolkit (WET). WET includes reusable components for building and maintaining innovative websites and Web applications that are accessible, usable and interoperable. It is open source and free to use.

WET complies with the Standard on Web Accessibility and is supported by working groups.

Benefits of using WET include:

  • Use of open source software that is free for use by departments and external Web communities;
  • Reduced costs by using ready-made Web components for building and maintaining innovative websites and Web applications;
  • Decreased time needed to develop websites and Web applications by using a wide range of supported layouts and designs;
  • Use of existing features that respect accessibility (WCAG 2.0 AA and WAI-ARIA), usability and interoperability; and
  • Advanced and innovative technologies are applied to push the envelope for website and Web application functionality:
    • HTML5, CSS3, jQuery (JavaScript framework); and
    • Ever-growing list of open source plugins and widgets.

2. Build Web pages using a progressive enhancement approach

Progressive enhancement ensures that core content and functionality are accessible to persons with disabilities. Web pages can then be enhanced as much as end-user technologies can support, without interfering with the core content and functionality –which therefore remains accessible. This approach helps ensure that Web pages are more interactive, innovative and accessible.

3. Use HTML5 markup language.

Build Web pages using HTML5 or later. HTML5 is a website markup language that includes accessibility enhancements for adaptive technologies that make it easier to leverage more advanced functionality. HTML5 can also be written in XHTML syntax, known as XHTML5.

HTML5 is a mandatory requirement for departments in the Standard on Web Interoperability.

Useful Links:

4. Use Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0.

Build Web pages of websites and Web applications using Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0 where appropriate. The Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite defines a way to make Web content more accessible to persons with disabilities.

Certain functionality used in websites and Web applications may not be available to some persons with disabilities, especially those who rely on screen readers or those who cannot use a mouse. WAI-ARIA addresses these accessibility challenges, for example, by defining new ways for functionality to be provided to assistive technology. With WAI-ARIA, developers can make advanced websites (including Web applications) accessible and usable to people with disabilities. (Source: W3C Web Accessibility Initiative).

Useful Links:

5. Use UTF-8 character encoding.

UTF-8 is an internationally accepted coding language that is used for displaying characters in electronic documents, Web pages, and software applications. It is used by more than half of all Web pages on the World Wide Web and supports a much wider range of characters than other standards, such as ISO-8859-1.

UTF-8 is a mandatory requirement for departments in the Standard on Web Interoperability.

6. Use CSS-based layouts Instead of table-based layouts.

A table-based layout involves inserting images and text into table cells to establish the structure of the Web page. A CSS-based layout uses a common file to apply a template to several Web pages simultaneously.

Using CSS-based layouts improves the accessibility of Web pages. It helps to improve mobile device support and reduce bandwidth usage, maintenance and redesign effort, and complexity for screen reader users. Tables should only be used to display tabular data.

7. Warn users in advance about changes in link behaviour.

Notification of changes to link behaviour helps prevent user confusion. Warn users in advance about the following:

Notification of changes to link behaviour helps prevent user confusion. Warn users in advance about the following:
  • A link that opens in a new window or tab; and
  • The file format name and file size when linking to a non-HTML/XHTML document.

8. Test Web pages with different browsers.

Test Web pages against the following browser test baseline:

  • The current and previous major version of each browser that accounts for at least 5 per cent of visits to the website;
  • Any major version of a browser that, on its own, accounts for at least 5 per cent of visits to the website; and
  • The current and previous versions of the default browsers of each mobile operating systems that accounts for at least 5 per cent of the global or Canadian mobile operating system market share.

9. Clearly identify videos for exclusive reuse by media for broadcast purposes.

Use the following prescribed phrase to identify videos for exclusive reuse by the media:

This web page contains video content published for exclusive reuse by the media for broadcast purposes.

The phrase should also provide a hyperlink to the notice below:

Videos for exclusive reuse by the media for broadcast purposes:
Video content identified for exclusive reuse by the media for broadcast purposes is not subject to Government of Canada Web standards. Please contact us to request another available format.

D. Assessing and Reporting on the Compliance of Websites and Web Applications

The following approach includes step-by-step guidance and tools to help government departments assess and provide compliance reports to the Secretariat.

  1. For a collection of Web pages (including Web applications), utilize the sampling methodology to determine the number and type of sample Web pages that must be assessed. Only this sample number of Web pages will need to be assessed to determine compliance scores for a website or Web application.
  2. Assess compliance of the sample Web pages of websites and Web applications to the Standard on Web Accessibility, using the Assessment Methodology. Using this methodology is mandatory.
  3. In addition, there are commercial and free tools available that can be utilized by departments to partially automate compliance assessment of websites and Web applications. Departments can leverage an assessment tool developed by Public Works and Government Services Canada that is available free of charge. Note that none of the assessment tools can fully automate compliance assessments of Web pages.
  4. Departments are required to provide Web inventory and compliance reports to the Secretariat annually.
  5. The Secretariat provides feedback on the department’s compliance reports and shares its assessment with departments to assist them in making course corrections.

Checklists for Managers, Functional Specialists, and Equivalents Responsible for Websites and Web Applications

When managing websites and Web applications, have you:

  • Incorporated Web accessibility into your processes and procedures?
  • Trained employees on the Standard on Web Accessibility, as well as on how it applies to different technologies (e.g., PDF, JavaScript, HTML) used by your organization?

When archiving Web pages, have you:

  • Clearly identified the Web page as being archived?

When developing websites and Web applications, have you:

  • Built Web pages using the most recent version of the Web Experience Toolkit (WET)?
  • Built Web pages using a progressive enhancement approach?
  • Tested Web pages against baseline recommended?
  • Built HTML-based Web pages using Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0, where appropriate?
  • Built HTML-based Web pages using HTML5?
  • Built HTML-based Web pages using CSS-based layouts instead of table-based layouts?
  • Warned users in advance about changes to link behaviour, such as when opening a new window or tab, or linking to a non-HTML document on HTML-based Web pages?
  • Clearly identified all video content that is to be reused by media for broadcast purposes?
  • Included an Accessibility Notice?
  • Tested Web pages with the recommended browsers?

When assessing and reporting on the compliance of websites and Web applications, have you:

  • Utilized the sampling methodology to determine the number and type of sample Web pages?
  • Utilized the Assessment Methodology for the Standard on Web Accessibility to determine the compliance of sample Web pages?
  • Utilized assessment tools to help departments partially automate compliance assessments as required in the Assessment Methodology?
  • Provided compliance reports as required to the Secretariat?
  • Incorporated lessons learned as a result of assessments by the Secretariat?

Section 6: Conclusion

The Government of Canada has supported Web accessibility for over a decade through the Common Look and Feel (CLF) standards and their alignment with the international World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

Indeed, much work has been undertaken by the Government of Canada to ensure the accessibility of government websites and Web applications. However, more work is being undertaken to improve Web accessibility. Execution of the guidance, tools and solutions contained in this document will help departments implement the Standard on Web Accessibility, one of the three Web standards that have replaced CLF 2.0.

Enquiries

Please direct enquiries regarding the Standard on Web Accessibility and this guidance document to your department’s Web standards Centre of Expertise. For further interpretation of the guidance, Web standards Centres of Expertise should contact:

Web Standards Office
Chief Information Officer Branch
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Ottawa ON K1A 0R5
E-mail: webstandards@tbs-sct.gc.ca

Appendix A: Definitions

Additional technical definitions are included in Appendix A of the Standard on Web Accessibility.

Accountable for (responsable)
For the purposes of the Standard on Web Accessibility, a department is responsible for Web content that it partially or fully owns and that is provided on its departmental website or Web application. “Department” refers to those organizations listed in Schedules I, I.1 and II of the Financial Administration Act.
Additional number of Web pages of websites or Web applications (autres pages Web (des sites Web dotés ou applications Web))
A sufficiently measurable increase in the number of the department’s public-facing Web pages of websites and Web applications are made compliant in Phase 2 of the implementation of the Standard on Web Accessibility.
Business Owner (responsable opérationnel)
Owner of public-facing websites or Web applications.
Complex maps (Cartes complexes)
These are maps that associate information with one or more locations that cannot be represented by postal addresses or proper names, such as intersections, landmarks, cities or regions. An example of a complex map is one that shows the location and intensity of precipitation detected by a RADAR network.
Demonstrably justified (Dont la justification est démontrable)
A demonstrably justified exclusion is a temporary dispensation from the requirements of the Standard on Web Accessibility for Web pages of websites and Web applications where it is critical for the content to be made available to deliver information and services, where technical solutions for accessibility or other elements are not readily available, and where the dispensation can be justified to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. An example is the provision of alternative text formats on a live satellite feed of weather radar imagery.
Digital repository (Dépôt numérique)
A repository is a preservation environment for information resources of business value. It includes specified physical or electronic storage space and the associated infrastructure required for its maintenance. An example is a database.
Most frequently used Web pages (Pages Web les plus fréquemment visitées)
The most frequently used Web pages of websites and Web applications are those with the highest number of page views.
Most important Information and Services (information et services les plus importants)
Important information and services include rights and benefits and other high-priority departmentally mandated information and services, such as government warnings, advisories and other significant notices. Examples include Canada Pension Plan benefits, weather warnings, travel advisories and health updates.
Public facing (accessible au public)
A public-facing website or Web application is one that can be accessed by individuals and businesses outside the Government of Canada.
Remaining Web pages (pages Web restantes)
All outstanding public-facing Web pages of websites and Web applications are made compliant in Phase 3 of the implementation of the Standard on Web Accessibility.
Rights and benefits (droits et avantages)
A right or benefit is a program or initiative that is made available by the Government of Canada for which a good or service is delivered and where there are established eligibility or application criteria. Examples could include child benefits, parental benefits, pension benefits, and grants and contributions.
Senior Departmental Official (cadre supérieur ministerial)
The senior departmental official is responsible for supporting the deputy head by overseeing the implementation and monitoring of the Standard on Web Accessibility.
Significant Number of Web Pages (nombre significatif de pages Web)
A measurable or noticeably large amount of the department’s public-facing Web pages of websites and Web applications are made compliant in Phase 1 of the implementation of the Standard on Web Accessibility.
Web page (page Web)
A Web page is a component of a website or Web application. See full definition in Appendix A of the Standard on Web Accessibility.
Web pages referenced from home pages (pages Web mentionnées dans les pages d'accueil)
These include second-level Web pages of websites and Web applications, as well as Web pages that are directly referenced from the home page of a website or Web application (e.g., Proactive Disclosure, Contact Us).
Web page template (modèle de page Web)
A web page template is a template used by a Web application for specific layouts and presentations or to present content. A single Web page template can be used to present one or more Web application pages.
Date modified: