Table of Contents
This standard comes into effect on January 1, 2007, and replaces the following Treasury Board Common Look and Feel Standards and Guidelines for Internet:
- Standard 1.1 - W3C Checkpoints;
- Standard 1.2 - Document Technologies;
- Standard 1.3 - Alternate Formats;
- Standard 1.4 - Text Equivalents;
- Standard 6.8 - Validation;
- Guideline 1.1 - HTML 4.0; and
- Guideline 6.1 - Cascading Style Sheets
This standard applies to institutions listed in Schedules I, I.1 and II of the Financial Administration Act.
The institutions in question must also apply the following policy instruments:
- Common Look and Feel Standards for the Internet, Part 1: Standard on Domain Names;
- Common Look and Feel Standards for the Internet, Part 3: Standard on Common Web Page Formats; and
- Common Look and Feel Standards for the Internet, Part 4: Standard on Email.
Institutions must also respect the official languages obligations set out in the Directive on the Use of Official Languages on Web Sites.
Canadians have the right to obtain information and services from Government of Canada Web sites regardless of the technologies they use. The key to effective implementation of universal accessibility lies in designing sites to serve the widest possible audience and the broadest possible range of hardware and software platforms, from adaptive technologies to emerging technologies.
For many Canadians, accessing Web content is more complicated than clicking a mouse and typing on a keyboard. Some Canadians rely on adaptive technologies such as text readers, audio players and voice-activated devices to overcome the barriers presented by standard Internet technologies. Others may be limited by their own technology.
The World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has developed universal accessibility guidelines. Along with these WAI guidelines and, in keeping with the client-centred approach of Common Look and Feel, this standard is directed toward ensuring equitable access to all content on Government of Canada Web sites.
This standard clearly allows an institution to provide information in multiple formats.
Deputy heads are accountable for implementing this standard in their institutions.
1. Compliance with World Wide Web Consortium Priority 1 and Priority 2 checkpoints
The institution respects the universal accessibility guidelines developed by the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative by ensuring compliance of its Web sites with the Priority 1 and Priority 2 checkpoints of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG), with the following exception:
- WCAG checkpoint 3.4 is superseded by requirement 2 of the Common Look and Feel Standards for the Internet, Part 3: Standard on Common Web Page Formats.
Each of the WCAG's fourteen guidelines is accompanied by one or more actions that a page author must perform to meet the requirements of the guidelines. These actions are called "checkpoints".
Institutions must consult the Directive on the Use of Official Languages on Web Sites for direction regarding the application of official languages requirements to text equivalents and other non-textual elements.
2. Baseline technologies
To ensure content will be available to site visitors regardless of the technical configuration of their system or device, the institution must establish XHTML 1.0 Strict and Cascading Style Sheets 1.0 as the baseline technologies for Web page markup, layout and design.
3. Accessible alternate format of documents on Websites
The institution uses standard methods to ensure accessibility of its products by employing languages described by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Recommendations. However, simply using these languages for markup or application design does not mean that products will be naturally accessible.
Where best efforts cannot make the content or application accessible - that is, where a document cannot be represented in XHTML 1.0 Strict or a language described by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Recommendations - the institution must:
- include an Accessibility Notice on the same page, immediately preceding the inaccessible element(s), that informs site visitors how to obtain accessible versions including print, Braille, and audio; and
- include an Accessibility Notice on the "Help" page(s) of the Web site.
Providing accessible versions other than accessible XHTML is a "last resort" measure. It is not intended to be a convenient method of avoiding the often-minimal effort necessary to make Web pages or Web applications accessible.
4. Offering information in multiple formats
The institution respects universal accessibility guidelines by ensuring that Web pages offering information in multiple formats include a text indication of the format, file type and size with each non-XHTML format link. For each format that requires specialized software, a hyperlink must be provided to a site where the appropriate viewer or plug-in application can be obtained. If an accessible version of a plug-in is also known to be available, then a note and a link to that product should also be included.
Neither this standard nor the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines suggest that a content provider cannot provide information in multiple formats. What they do require is that the first format encountered by a visitor is the most accessible version.
Sample treatments of documents in multiple formats and of multimedia files in multiple formats are provided in the CLF Toolbox.
The institution must ensure that there is sufficient contrast between textual elements and background colours or images when the page is viewed by someone having colour deficits or when viewed on a black and white screen.
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