A new AODA requirement for Ontario websites will come into force on January 1st, 2021. Under the Information and Communications Standards, 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. Some of these guidelines outline how to make web-based text accessible to a variety of users. Here we will describe a few of these web accessibility guidelines for text.
Web Accessibility Guidelines for Text
Web designers must provide ways for users to enlarge all text up to two hundred percent (200%). Moreover, once they enlarge the text, users must be able to access all the content and perform all the functions available to users reading un-enlarged text.
Images of Text
Designers must present written information as text, instead of as an image of the text. However, designers can present information as an image if a user can visually customize this image to meet their needs. Similarly, designers can present information in images if this format is essential for showing information accurately. For example, logos and brand names are considered essential.
Language of Text
Designers must ensure that assistive technology can recognize the default language of their websites. These programs must also recognize if a website contains sections or phrases in languages other than the main language of the site. However, there are a few situations in which assistive technology does not need to identify language, including:
- Proper names
- Technical terms
The WCAG webpage provides the full list of requirements, as well as technical guidance for website owners and developers 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 at level AAA. In addition, the page also includes new guidelines added in Version 2.1. For example, some additional guidelines for making online text accessible are:
- Guidelines for visually presenting blocks of text
- Images of text used only for decoration
- Guidelines for spacing
- Text alternatives for images on labels
- Definitions of unusual words
- Plain language versions of text at an advanced reading level
- Pronunciation to clarify context
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.