Government of Canada new standard on web accessibility released
Americas, August 23 2011
The Standard on Web Accessibility came into effect on August 1, 2011. This standard applies to all institutions listed in schedules I, I.1, and II of the Financial Administration Act and will be implemented in three phases over a two-year period.
The Standard on Web Accessibility is accompanied by a guidance document to facilitate implementation by July 31, 2013. The supporting guidance provides useful direction to senior departmental officials, who are responsible for supporting deputy heads in adhering to the requirements of the Standard on Web Accessibility. Additional information on specific deliverables, tools, solutions and upcoming reporting requirements is also provided.
Departments should start converting existing content immediately according to the implementation plan in the Standard, giving priority to core web pages and important information and services for individuals and businesses, including rights and benefits. All new web pages published post-October 1, 2011, must immediately conform to the Standard on Web Accessibility.
The Standard provides for a number of exclusions: images of text (logos), complex maps, live video captions, video content provided exclusively for reuse by media, and audio descriptions. For pre-recorded video, a grace period of 10 days for captions has been provided to allow for rapid publishing.
The Secretariat is planning to release a separate Standard on Web Usability shortly. The implementation schedule will follow a similar two-year period as the Standard on Web Accessibility.
Consultations on the draft Standard on Usability are taking place in August. Additional information regarding these consultations will be sent to senior departmental officials shortly.
In the interim, departments should continue to clean up their Web presences, removing redundant, outdated and trivial content in preparation for both of these standards. In this regard, consideration should be given to archiving websites that are no longer relevant, and the consolidation of websites should be explored.
By applying the Standard on Web Accessibility, the Government will be making its online information and services increasingly accessible to all Canadians.