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Accessibility & SEO

With less than a year away, January 1st, 2021 marks the day of an important compliance deadline we must fulfil under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

AODA requirements 

All websites at Ryerson must meet Level AA of the WCAG 2.0 by January 1st, 2021. This is a mandatory legal requirement stipulated by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). This law also applies to anything you upload to your website such as PDF documents, forms, and other media. These requirements are designed to make your website accessible for people with disabilities and people who use assistive technology.

If you own, manage or update a Ryerson-related website, you are responsible for ensuring it meets these requirements. Non-compliance may result in financial penalties depending on the severity or impact of accessibility issues.

  • WCAG 2.0 = Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is a series of web accessibility guidelines published by the World Wide Web Consortium, the main international standards organization for the Internet.
  • Level AA = The level of conformance required in Ontario (excluding live captioning and audio descriptions for videos). Your website must satisfy all Level A and AA Success Criteria (guidelines) in order to be compliant.

Step 1: Understand the basics

Learn how to create an accessible, compliant website with the following guides.

Alternative Text Guide

How to write effective and meaningful text alternatives. 

Heading Structure

How to structure headings correctly for accessibility and SEO.

Link Text & Writing

Best practices on writing for the web and all audiences.

SEO Tips & Tricks

Tips to make your website discoverable.

Other requirements

In addition to having good heading structure, alternative text for images, and descriptive links. Your website must also have:

  • Closed captioning for all videos that you embed (Level A).
  • Transcript for all podcasts and audio (Level A).
  • A text alternative for any videos without sound or videos that only contain music (Level A).
    • In other words, provide a simple text description of what's happening on screen below the video, so people who are blind can understand what is happening in the video. 
    • Alternatively, consider providing at least a voice over of any on-screen text elements, or provide audio description for your videos if possible. Audio description is not mandatory, however highly encouraged.
  • Avoid images of text whenever possible (Level AA).

Step 2: Use the built-in accessibility checker

The in-page accessibility checker will instantly check your page for accessibility and usability issues when enabled. The tool checks for content issues such as images missing alternative text, non-descriptive hyperlinks, poor heading structure, incorrect use of components and much more.

Screenshot of the accessibility checker flagging two errors.

Get help

For help with website accessibility, please contact Adam Chaboryk.

Adam Chaboryk
IT Accessibility Specialist
Digital Media Projects, Computing and Communication Services
adam.chaboryk@ryerson.ca
416-979-5000, ext. 553284

If you are looking for assistance with SEO and content strategy, please contact Michael Lund.

Michael Lund
Manager, Digital Experience
University Relations
michael.lund@ryerson.ca
416-979-5000, ext. 3337