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Understanding Web Accessibility

Understanding Web Accessibility

This course is aimed at Web content developers, and people who need to know about making content on the Web accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. The course will help Web authors develop the skills and understanding needed to create Web sites that comply with accessibility standards.


The course has been developed at the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre (ATRC) at the University of Toronto, in collaboration with Accessibility Directorate of Ontario (ADO), Cantor Access Inc, and Vubiz Inc. The ATRC is a world leader in the development of accessible information and communication technologies and standards. The ADO implements the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Cantor Access Inc. provides consultation and education in many areas associated with Web accessibility. Vubiz Inc. is a developer of accessible instructional media.

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Content Covered

The course focuses on developing understanding of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Each unit first reviews the guidelines associated with one of the WCAG accessibility principles, in plain language, and goes on to describe the reasons why the principle is important. Then accessibility barriers are demonstrated through a number of simulations that help people who do not normally experience barriers, experience them first hand. Finally each unit provides a technical section that describes common barriers, strategies that can be used to prevent these barriers, as well as practical examples that developers can reproduce to quickly correct problems they find in their own Web content.

The course consists of four units corresponding to the Accessibility Principles described in WCAG 2.0:

  1. Perceivable
  2. Operable
  3. Understandable
  4. Robust

For each unit, the first sections are aimed at everyone involved in Web content development, and the later sections are aimed at those who implement accessibility strategies and write the code or HTML used to present content on the Web. Each unit is structured as follows:

  1. The Principle (A brief description of the WCAG principle.)
  2. Reasons for Accessibility (A discussion of why the principle is important.)
  3. The Guidelines (A list of guidelines associated with the principle, along with "translations" in plain language.)
  4. Experiencing Barriers (A simulation of barriers as they might be experienced by people with disabilities.)
  5. Ways to Avoid Creating Barriers (An introduction to accessible content authoring strategies.)
    1. Success Criteria (Ways to conform with WCAG guidelines.)
    2. Sufficient Techniques (Strategies for creating accessible Web content.)
  6. Other Considerations (A discussion of accessibility issues not directly addressed by the guidelines.)
  7. Unit Exercise (Gain practical experience.)
  8. Unit Quiz (Test your knowledge of the materials in the unit.)

Course Format

Understanding Web Accessibility is offered as a four week moderated online course.

Certificate Requirements

The course can be taken for a certificate for those with previous Web development experience. If you are taking the course to earn a certificate, each of the unit quizzes with modules one, two and three must be completed with a score of 85% or better. Participants have the opportunity to retake quizzes if they score lower. The certificate is aimed primarily at Web developers who are already familiar with Web development practices, and want to upgrade their accessibility skills, though all are welcome to try the quizzes.

Course Preview

Potential participants can use the link below for guest access to the course site prior to its start to familiarize themselves with the learning environment, and to review the Course Introduction. Other course modules and quizzes will become available the day the courses starts.

Login to Understanding Web Accessibility

You can access the self-moderated courses at login to Understanding Web Accessibility.

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This course is made possible by the Government of Ontario's Enabling Change Program.