How to make new or significantly updated websites accessible for people with disabilities.

Who must comply

By law, you must make new and significantly refreshed public websites accessible if you are:

  • a private or non-profit organization with 50+ employees; or
  • a public sector organization

The organization that controls the website must meet the accessibility requirements.

Compliance deadline

  • Beginning January 1, 2014: new public websites, significantly refreshed websites and any web content posted after January 1, 2012 must meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A
  • Beginning January 1, 2021: all public websites and web content posted after January 1, 2012 must meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA other than criteria 1.2.4 (live captions) and 1.2.5 (pre-recorded audio descriptions)


Controlling a website

This means you have control over the website’s:

  • appearance
  • functionality
  • content

New website

This means the site has a new web address, or a significantly new look and feel. A website is not considered new if you are simply adding a new page or a new link.

Significantly refreshed website

This means you are keeping the same web address, but you are making changes such as:

  • a new look and feel to the website
  • how users navigate around it
  • a major update and change to the content of the website


Content means any information that may be found on a web page or web application, including text, images, forms and sounds.

WCAG 2.0 Guidelines

WCAG 2.0 is an internationally accepted standard for web accessibility developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international team of experts.

Following these guidelines should make it easier for everyone to access your website and content.

Levels of web accessibility

Each guideline has three levels of accessibility: A, AA and AAA. Newly created or refreshed websites must meet level A. Later, your website will need to meet Level AA. Meeting Level AAA is not required at this time.

In most cases you must meet the Level A criteria before you can meet the Level AA criteria.

How to comply

Your public website and its content must meet WCAG 2.0, as outlined in the Accessibility Standard for Information and Communications. We’re phasing in the WCAG 2.0 requirements to make it easier for you to build accessibility into your organization’s website.

You don’t have to make your internal website (intranet) accessible. You don’t have to modify content posted before 2012. If asked, you will need to work with individuals to make the content available to them in an alternate format such as large print or braille.

According to Ontario’s accessibility laws, new and significantly refreshed websites must meet the following success criteria for each level:

Tips for testing websites for accessibility

There are a number of ways to know if your new or refreshed website is accessible:

1. Automatic assessment and assistive technology

Do a final evaluation of your site using an automatic assessment to flag any issues that may not have been resolved. For example, you can review your site using assistive technology such as a screen reader to make sure the design and technical aspects of the site are accessible.

2. User testing and feedback

If possible, ask people with disabilities to test your new or refreshed site before you launch. Get feedback from customers and other site users to find out if there are any improvements needed.

3. Review key milestones and changes

Keep a record of the accessibility issues that have been repaired, or ask your web developer to maintain such a record. This will show you the completed work and the new level of accessibility. It will also be helpful if your organization is asked to show that your website is WCAG 2.0 compliant.

4. Online accessibility checker

You can use an online tool to check if your website is accessible. Using an online accessibility checker does not guarantee that you will find all accessibility issues with your website. It is important to have a person review the site as well.

This is an example of an online accessibility checker that can help you find accessibility issues with your new or refreshed website:


Tips for working with web developers

If you don’t manage your website or don’t have web development experience, the following steps may help you work with a web developer to make your website more accessible.

Determine your web developer’s level of expertise

Make sure your in-house developer or the developer you plan to hire has the expertise needed to make your website more accessible.

Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • Are you familiar with WCAG 2.0, Level A and AA?
  • Have you developed/refreshed an accessible website (WCAG 2.0, Level A or higher)? Do you have links or references for these sites?
  • Do you code manually or with the assistance of a program? If you use a program, does it support accessibility?
  • Do you test the website for accessibility using automated and manual assessments and assistive technology?

Communicate your expectations

Think about accessibility from the start. When working on the website design, let your web developer know your expectations for:

  • making the website and web content accessible (WCAG 2.0)
  • the level of accessibility (Level A or AA), and
  • timelines for completing the website

Ask for a project plan

Your developer should provide you with a project plan for completing the website. The plan should include the following steps:

  1. identifies techniques or software used: developers should tell you if they are using accessible coding techniques or software that supports accessible websites
  2. outlines how your website will be tested: the plan should include automated and manual tests, as well as testing using assistive technology, such as screen readers
  3. identifies how the site will be maintained: this could include training you or your staff on how to make changes to the website, how to create accessible content, or an agreement to maintain the website
  4. outlines key deliverables and timelines: whether the developer is fixing accessibility issues or creating an entirely new website, they should be able to clearly tell you when and how the project will be delivered