As many of us are aware, the Ontario government began a quest to make our province accessible by introducing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) in June of 2005.
One of the purposes of the AODA is to instigate development, implementation, and enforcement of future accessibility standards. These standards are to be implemented in stages over a 20 year time-line.
The first major stage was the "Accessibility Standards for Customer Service". To meet regulatory compliance, the University was required to train everyone who interacts with the public on its behalf in accessible customer service (you may remember the compulsory customer service training on the Queen's University Equity Office website).
The second major stage was the introduction of the "Integrated Accessibility Regulation (IAR)". This regulation was released in June of 2011 and combines three sets of accessibility standards: Information and Communications, Employment, and Transportation.
If your current duties at Queen's University include contributing to online content (online documents, web pages, web applications, etc), becoming familiar with the Information and Communications Standards section of the IAR is highly recommended (although becoming familiar with the entire regulation is also recommended).
As it pertains to Ontario University websites, the Information and Communications Standards are broken into two key dates:
Although the new regulation has been created in a manner whereby the web accessibility requirements will be phased in over an extended period of time, it is important that the University immediately takes steps toward an increasingly accessible web environment. This is needed to ensure we meet the requirements by the dates set out. Considering the large number of websites and webpages contained under the Queen's University umbrella, there is much work and training to be done before accomplishing the goal of a fully accessible web environment.
In addition to other groups on campus who are improving accessibility at Queen's, ITServices offers a couple of services to help educate users on the subject of web accessibility. Everyone with a valid NetID can take the online Web Accessibility course in Moodle. This course is a way for people to educate themselves about various topics such as current standards and laws, how to create accessible websites, and the characteristics of an accessible PDF. ITServices also offers a web content accessibility review service. TServices will, upon request, perform a review of a Queen's University website and provide an accessibility report to the requesting department/faculty.
For more information please consult the following resources:
Copyright Queen's University
Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6 613.533.2000