Website accessibility in Quebec – Legal requirements at a glance

The sixth instalment in our series of articles by guest author and McGill Accessibility Advisor, Rachel Desjourdy. In this edition, we look at requirements for website accessibility in Quebec.

McGill University follows the Standard sur l'accessibilité des sites Web (SGQRI 008 2.0) to make its websites accessible to all Internet users. In a nutshell, organizations following this standard must meet level AA compliance of the Web Compliance Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, with a few exceptions:

  • AA criteria 1.2.4 and 1.2.5 are not required
  • AAA criteria 2.3.2 and 3.1.4 are required
  • Pre-recorded audio can meet 1.2.2 and/or 1.2.6 (but not required to do both)

The easy-to-read compliance checklist below should make these legal standards more understandable to everyday site editors. This checklist is a targeted list of actions that site managers and editors can take to achieve compliance for McGill sites in the WMS platform. (For simplicity's sake, we've excluded accessibility mesures that are managed by central Web Services in the "backend" or code of the WMS.)

Owners and administrators of virtual host (VHost) websites and McGill sites built on external platforms should consult the Standard sur l'accessibilité des sites Web (SGQRI 008 2.0) to become familiar with the full list of requirements.

Images/graphics

Visual content (uploaded images, graphics, charts, infographics) must:

  • Include alt text (WCAG 2.0 1.1.1)
  • Avoid colour reliance: do not use colour as the only visual means of communicating information (WCAG 2.0 1.3.1)
  • Ensure any text in images meets accessible contrast ratios (WCAG 2.0 1.4.3)
  • Use accessible formatting elements, such as blocks or Big Numbers instead of uploading images of text (WCAG 1.4.5)

Video/audio

  • Include an alternative when uploading audio-only or video-only multimedia (WCAG 2.0 1.2)
    • Example: Podcast uploaded alongside a transcript
    • Example: Videos without audio include a caption that describes what is happening
  • Provide captions (WCAG 1.2.2) OR sign language interpretation in LSQ (langue des signes québécoise) for all pre-recorded audio content (WCAG 1.2.6)
    • Example: Recording of a public lecture series is uploaded with captioning available
  • Include an alternative or audio description for all pre-recorded time-based media is (1.2.3)
    • Example: Providing an alternative audio track that includes audio descriptions
    • Example: “Talking head” style videos include static text describing visual content
  • Avoid content that flashes more than 3 times per second (WCAG 2.3.1)

Text content/formatting

  • Use proper headings (heading 2, heading 3, etc.) to structure your content (WCAG 2.0 1.3.1)
  • Use the list function in the WYSIWYG editor to structure lists (WCAG 2.0 1.3.1)
  • Format tables with proper row and column headers (WCAG 2.0 1.3.1)
  • Use blocks and other pre-set features (e.g. call-to-action buttons) as they're intended to create attractive layouts. Websites can be both attractive and accessible, so there's no need to improvise with features or use images to represent buttons and layouts.
  • Ensure all PDF documents uploaded to the web are accessible (WCAG 1.4.5)
  • Use web page titles that describe the topic or purpose of the page (WCAG 2.4.2)
  • Use section headings that describe the topic or purpose of the section (WCAG 2.0 2.4.6)
  • Verify that links are descriptive: the hyperlinked text describes where the link is taking the user (WCAG 2.4.4)
    • E.g.: Avoid “click here” hyperlinked text

For additional information and resources, visit our Digital standards: Make sites accessible web page.


Rachel Desjourdy is the Accessibility Advisor in the Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). She is available to support the McGill community in becoming more inclusive and accessible.

Update June 2021: Unfortunately for us, Rachel has moved to a position at another company. We congratulate her and wish her all the best with her future endeavours! We expect announcements about McGill's new Accessibility Advisor will be shared in the near future.

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