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Faculty and Staff Information: AODA Resources

AODA Legislation

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) 

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is legislation brought forward by the Ontario government with the aim of providing equitable accessibility standards to all Ontarians by 2025. AODA legislation covers five areas: 

1. Customer Service
2. Design of Public Spaces
3. Employment 
4. Information and Communication
5. Transportation 

AODA requires institutions to develop plans to reduce barriers to access for persons with disabilities. The Information and Communications Standards of AODA requires that organizations must create and provide accessible formats and communication supports for people with disabilities. These can include class handouts, lecture slides, and videos shown in class. Students may utilize supports such as screen reading software, large print, described video, video captioning, and screen magnification software.  
If you have a student who you think may require accommodations, connect them with Counselling & Accessible Education Services


Create Accessible Emails

Students with colour blindness may not be able to differentiate between some colours in your email, so it's good practice to make sure that colour is not the only way you convey information. Colour contrast can also affect students who have reading difficulties. Best practice is to ensure you have a high contrast between your text and your background. An example of high contrast is black text on white background. An example of low contrast is yellow on white.
Sans serif font is the easiest of the font types to be read on screen. Additionally, make sure your font is at least 12 point in size. While students can increase the zoom level on their devices to help them read their screens, doing so can also make the email appear broken or cut-off.
It is also a best practice to avoid paragraphs that have large blocks of text. When scanning an email it should be easy to identify paragraphs and keep your place.
While sighted users can visually scan over non-relevant content, blind users must listen to the entire content of the email, one email at a time. The best practice is to tailor the written content in your email to deliver the main message.

When composing a new email message, there are 3 formats to choose from: 

  1. Plain text email will suffice for most small, routine correspondence. The advantages of plain text are that it can be read by any email program, is compatible with all email systems, and is compatible with all assistive technologies. Limitations of plain text are that you cannot apply document structure and the links are limited to full URLs.
  2. Rich text allows you to add formatting to your text. You can make text bold, add underlines, and insert links. Rich text does not allow you to add “semantic structure,” such as headings, which helps those using assistive technology screen readers in handling long, complicated documents. If you create a heading using bold text, a screen reader user will not know that the text is meant to be a heading. Also, rich text is not displayed the same in all email applications.
  3. HTML email is a good choice when you wish to add more formatting and structure to a message. HTML supports semantic headings, images with alternative text, links, and lists. When your emails contain any of these features, HTML is the format to use

Creating Accessible Excel Documents

  • Images, Charts, and Graphics included in a worksheet need to have alternative text. Otherwise, these items will not be perceived, nor properly understood by persons who have visual disabilities.
  • Alternative text is read by screen readers allowing the content and function of these images, charts or graphics to be accessible to those with visual or certain cognitive disabilities.
  • To add alternative text (Alt text) to an image, chart or graphic – Right Click (Shift+F10) on the image, click Format, choose Alt Text.
  • Add Alternate text to your table. First Right Click (Shift+F10) anywhere within the table. Select ‘Table’, then ‘Alternative Text’.
  • Having clear column headings can help provide context and assist navigation of the table’s contents.
  • To specify a header row in a new block of cells:
    • Highlight the cells to be included in the table.
    • On the Insert tab, in the Tables group, click Table.
    • Select the My table has headers check box.
    • Click OK.
  • To specify a header row in a block of cells marked as a table:
    • Click anywhere in the table.
    • On the Table Tools Design tab, in the Table Style Options group, select the Header Row check box.
    • Add header information
  • Hyperlink text provides a clear description of the link destination, rather than providing either the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) or simply words such as, ‘Click Here’.
  • People who utilize screen reading software can navigate by going from ‘link’ to ‘link’. Meaningful text enables them to know what each link is for, and where it will take them.
  • To add a hyperlink to a table:
    • Place the cursor in the cell where the hyperlink is to be added.
    • In the Insert tab, in the Links group, click on Hyperlink and a dialog box will open.
    • In the Text to Display box, type in the name or phrase that briefly describes the link destination. If the content of the cell is numeric, the Text to Display box will remain blank.
    • In the Address box, type the URL. Click OK
  • Another option in Excel is to add a ScreenTip to a hyperlink. When focusing on a cell that includes a hyperlink, a Screen Reader will read the ScreenTip in a similar way it reads Alt Text. This is a helpful way to make hyperlinks more meaningful, especially when dealing with numbers in an Excel Worksheet and not text.
  • To add a ScreenTip:
    • Place focus in the cell with the hyperlink.
    • On the Insert tab, in the Links group, click Hyperlink to open the Hyperlink dialog box.
    • Click ScreenTip.
    • Type text in the ScreenTip text box.
    • Click OK.
  • Avoid Blank Cells, Rows and Columns. When navigating by keyboard a blank row, column or cell within an Excel worksheet might lead someone to believe there is nothing more in the table. Simply delete any blank cells, rows and columns that are not necessary.
  • Do Not Merge or Split Cells. Merging or Splitting cells can make navigating Excel tables with Assistive Technologies very difficult if not impossible. Always keep your tables straightforward and simple and avoid this practice.
  • Give all sheet tabs unique names. Sheet names in an Excel file should be unique and provide information about what can be found on the worksheet. Unique sheet names make it easier to navigate through a workbook. Any blank sheets in a workbook should be deleted.
  • To rename a sheet:
    • Right-click (Shift+F10) the sheet tab, and then click Rename.
    • Type a brief, unique name that is descriptive of the sheet contents.
  • To delete a sheet:
    • Right click (Shift+F10) the sheet tab, and then click Delete
  • Perform a test of the document’s accessibility prior to distributing it either via email or by posting it to the internet. Use a screen reader such as NVDA.  Microsoft Excel also has a built-in accessibility feature.
  • However, do not rely on ‘machine’ testing alone to test for accessibility.
  • To access the Accessibility Checker in Microsoft Excel: In the File tab, click on Info, Check for Issues, and then Check Accessibility.

Accessible Document Creation - LinkedIn Learning Course

LinkedIn Learning has an online course in creating accessible documents.

Creating Accessible Documents in Microsoft Office 

To access LinkedIn you'll need to

  • Click Sign in
  • Enter your Fleming Email Address
  • Choose to Sign in with Single Sign On
  • Sign in with your Fleming username and password.
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