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Approaching 2021: Website accessibility and AODA compliance at Ryerson

By: Adam Chaboryk, IT Accessibility Specialist
November 10, 2020

January 1st, 2021 marks the day of an important compliance deadline Ryerson must fulfil under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). 

Section 14 of the AODA states that all internet websites and web content must conform with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 at Level AA by this date. These guidelines are designed to make information accessible for people with disabilities, and people who use assistive technology.

What this means

  • If you own or edit a Ryerson-related website, you are responsible for meeting this deadline.
  • All public facing content on your website must meet Level AA of the WCAG 2.0 by January 1st, 2021. This includes anything you upload to your website like PDF documents, forms, and other media.
  • Non compliance may result in financial penalties for your unit, depending on the severity or impact of accessibility issues. 

Steps towards achieving compliance

Depending on the number of website pages, remediating your website may be a lengthy process. When assessing your website, prioritize your efforts based on impact and reach.



  • Your website is not a USB drive; consider removing old outdated pages and documents.
  • Keeping fresh, relevant content is critical for your website and SEO.


  • Sometimes it’s easier to start with a clean slate. If you are managing a Ryerson-related website using an older legacy template or an external content management system like WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix; consider migrating your website to the university-supported content management system (Web Support).
    • The responsive template is designed to facilitate accessibility and make website editing easy. It also features a free built-in accessibility checker on every page, which provides detailed, relevant information on how to fix accessibility and usability issues on a page.
  • If you have multiple PDF or Office documents, consider converting them into a webpage for easy maintenance and discoverability.


  • Ensure that all public facing videos have closed captioning, and/or any audio content has an accompanying transcript. 
  • It's crucial to dedicate some time learning the basics of web accessibility before pursuing any remediation efforts. After learning the basics, use a variation of automated tools and manual testing to check the accessibility of your website. 
  • Consider starting with a small sample of pages. Identify patterns or errors that repeat on multiple pages, then address content related issues.
  • Not all websites, themes or plugins are built the same. Find relevant accessibility guidance that is specific to your content management system.

Ryerson staff and faculty are encouraged to use the university-supported content management system, which includes an accessibility-ready template and built-in accessibility checker.

External Ryerson sites

If you are creating a website outside of the university-supported content management system, you must incorporate accessibility in the design and development process. If developing internally or with an external agency, you should specify WCAG 2.0 Level AA as a requirement. Here is some guidance on external content management systems:

  • WordPress: Use themes that are tagged as “accessibility ready” as a starting point for your website. Explore the WordPress Accessibility Handbook., external link
  • Drupal: Refer to Drupal’s accessibility page., external link
  • JavaScript frameworks: There are many considerations when using a JavaScript framework, including: focus management, routing, semantic HTML, unobtrusive motion, progressive enhancement, and more. Explore the accessibility documentation included with the framework you choose.
  • Static HTML & CSS templates: Use frameworks that are designed with accessibility in mind as a starting point, like Bootstrap., external link
  • (Caution ) Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, GoDaddy: These pre-built website templates and services are known to be problematic for accessibility, and sometimes do not follow accessible design patterns. It is not recommended to use these services for university related activities.

For more information on website accessibility, contact Adam Chaboryk, IT accessibility specialist at


  • Remember that accessibility is a journey, not a destination. It’s an on-going process. 
  • Build accessibility into your processes and workflows. Make accessibility a habit; not an afterthought. 
  • Discuss future web projects with your team and how you plan to ensure those assets are accessible. 
  • Crowdsource help. Accessibility is a shared responsibility. If being requested to upload something to your website, ask them to:   

Support and training

For more information or if you have questions about digital accessibility, training, or support, please contact Adam Chaboryk, IT accessibility specialist at

About this page

This communication was originally published on Ryerson's Web Support site for staff and faculty who create websites in the university-supported content management system, Adobe AEM. This page has been revised to include information relevant to staff and faculty who manage external websites.

Except where otherwise noted, this page ("Approaching 2021: Website accessibility and AODA compliance at Ryerson") is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License., external link