Website accessibility

Web accessibility at the University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo is committed to meeting our obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

The University has an obligation to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0 Level AA for all public websites, in accordance with AODA legislation, as outlined in Policy 58 - Accessibility. (Our obligations are specified in Section 14 of the Integrated Accessibility Standards which is a regulation under the AODA.)

Our responsibility

Ensure all users, with or without disability, are able to efficiently understand, interact with, and use your website effectively.


The standard is now in force and applies to anything that was published on a website on or after January 1, 2012, including PDF files and web-based applications that an organization controls directly or through a contractual relationship that allows for modification of the product.

Websites are required to be accessible if any of the following are true:

  • the site is about a University entity, such as a faculty, department, school, institute, etc.
  • the University has the ability to control the content on the site.
  • the site conveys information that reasonably would be considered University business. For example, a professional “profile” page that describes a person’s area of expertise and how to contact them at the University must be accessible. (A site that is about a person’s hobbies and not in the University’s control is not required to be accessible. Such sites would not use the University logo.)

The rules that apply to the University also apply to the Affiliated and Federated Institutions of Waterloo.

Websites in the University’s web space that are personal or relating to other groups, such as student clubs, for which the University does not control content do not fall under the University’s legal mandate to make its websites accessible. Still, University employees and other groups using the University’s web space are strongly encouraged to make their sites accessible.

Why is web accessibility important?

Reasons why web accessibility is SO important to adhere to:

  • Provides an equal opportunity for all.
  • The ability to reach a larger and more inclusive audience.
  • Creates an enjoyable user experience for everyone as many accessibility requirements overlap with usability and SEO optimization.
  • It is the law and therefore your responsibility when creating a website to adhere to these requirements. There can be financial repercussions to ignoring these regulations.

How to comply

By choosing the WCMS you are already working towards an accessible website; however, this is not enough to ensure we are meeting our obligations set under the AODA. When creating content on your website you will also be required to follow rules such as heading order, accurate alternative text, accessible link text, accessible tables and more.

Accessibility resources

Understand more about the benefits of an accessible website, learn about basic web accessibility and tips, and explore some accessibility evaluation tools and resources!