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Web Accessibility Guidelines for Display in Portrait and Landscape Orientation

Under the Information and Communications Standards of the AODA, organizations must make their websites and web-based apps accessible. Organizations must do so by making their websites compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA. This international standard gives web developers guidelines on how to make their webpages accessible to computer users with disabilities. However, updates to the Information and Communications Standards could require organizations to comply with more recent versions of WCAG. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) released an improved version of these guidelines, version 2.1, in 2018. Moreover, the W3C will release WCAG version 2.2 in September 2022. This article outlines WCAG 2.1’s web accessibility guidelines for display in portrait and landscape orientations.

Web Accessibility Guidelines for Display in Portrait and Landscape Orientations

Web designers should create content that can display in either a portrait or landscape orientation. Some websites and apps restrict their content to display in only one (1) of these orientations. For instance, a website’s content may only display in portrait orientation. As a result, users who set up their devices to display in landscape orientation miss seeing some content.

This design requires the viewer of the website to turn their device, or change their display settings, to fit the restricted display. However, not all users can make these changes. For example, if a user has their device mounted to the arm of their wheelchair, they may not be able to turn the device. Alternatively, a user who is visually impaired may view websites on a large monitor set up to always display in landscape. Therefore, web designers should avoid restricting the orientation in which their content displays.

Similarly, some users may set their devices to always display in one orientation. Websites and apps should recognize these user settings, and display all content in the orientation the user has chosen.

However, web designers can restrict the orientation of their content if viewing content in a certain orientation is essential. For example, virtual reality content may change between portrait and landscape orientations. Likewise, content such as bank checks or piano apps may need to display in landscape.

Advanced Requirements

The WCAG webpage provides the full list of requirements, as well as technical guidance on how to implement them. The AODA only requires websites to follow guidelines in version 2.0, level AA. However, the WCAG webpage provides guidelines for version 2.1, and at level AAA. While websites do not need to follow these guidelines, they can choose to follow them as a best practice. Websites that follow more guidelines have the chance to welcome more visitors and do more online business.