How Sitecore Helps AODA Compliance

Blog | Digital
Written By: Ken GrayPublished On: Apr 10 2017

Ensuring that your website is accessible to everyone is a challenge often overlooked by developers and designers alike. Luckily a Sitecore build gives you all the tools you need to succeed.

Many non-profit, government and crown corporations are required to meet online accessibility requirements for people with physical disabilities, including vision loss, blindness, hearing loss and those who may have difficulty accessing web content the way the general public can.

The standards and legislation vary from region to region, but typically align to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG). Examples include:

  • Rehabilitation Act – Section 508 (United 
  • Standard on Web Accessibility (Canada)
  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (Ontario)

For organizations with this requirement, Sitecore can make it easy to enforce many accessibility standards. Please note that many requirements are content-specific and design-specific and cannot be enforced by a CMS tool or automatically verified; as such, a combination of tool-validation and training for content authors and designers is required for continued compliance.

WCAG 2.0 – Supporting the requirements

The WCAG requirements and remedies are quite in-depth and are not fully covered below. Our intent is to highlight the important areas and show where Sitecore can help.

Accessibility Audit

The first place to start is with an Accessibility Audit that will cross-check your Sitecore build, design and content against the WCAG requirements. An Audit will give you a roadmap and estimated timeframe to reach full compliance.

Two example Audit Tasks



Audit Task


Content does not violate general flash threshold or the red flash threshold

Review all video content to ensure web pages do not contain anything that flashes more than three times in any one second period, or the flash is below the general flash and red flash thresholds


The purpose of each link can be determined from the link text alone or from the link text together with its programmatically determined link context, except where the purposes of the link would be ambiguous to users in general   

Read/Review all links to ensure link text is meaningful and coveys purpose – e.g. no “click here” links

Maintaining Accessibility Compliance

All content that gets added and or update on your site will need to be accessible to maintain compliance. Sitecore’s platform is extensible and can automate validation checks at the field level with a Custom Field Validation or at the workflow level with an API call to a third-party audit service. This way, your content authors will be able to continually validate new content as it is added.

Some Guidelines and Their Remedies



Sitecore & Other Remedies


Provide text for all non-text content

For all images in the Media Library Sitecore provides an "alt" tag value which is mandatory and published with the image

This can also be enforced through workflow


Provide text alternatives that identify the non-text content with a descriptive text label

For all videos in the Video Library a video description field is mandatory and published with the video


Ensure that information and structure can be separated from presentation. Information, structure, and relationships conveyed through presentation can be programmatically determined or are available in text

Default of Sitecore

Also, TechGuilds builds with AODA in mind and uses semantic, front-end markup best practices such as properly nested H tags (H1, H2, etc) to allow user agents and assistive technologies to identify section headings and navigational structure

CSS is also employed for uniform layout structure and styling

Mandatory form fields are clearly marked with an asterisk at the end of the label, with instructions indicating so.


All functionality of the content is operable in a non-time-dependent manner through a keyboard interface, except where the task requires analog, time-dependent input

Website content is operable through a keyboard interface without requiring specific timings for individual keystroke


Allows users to control time limits on their reading or interaction

Moving elements, such as homepage slides, can be configured in Sitecore to permit pausing of slides


Web pages have titles that describe topic or purpose

Sitecore allows for several title fields for navigation, page title and breadcrumb. Content authors must ensure they are sufficiently descriptive of page content


The primary natural language or languages of the web unit can be programmatically determined

Sitecore allows for multiple languages and publishes pages with the default human language identified in the HTML element within the lang attribute ("en")


Content and design specific guidelines

Some WCAG 2.0 requirements cannot be verified as easily by a tool, and require human judgement of both design and content elements. Consider, hiring real people and specifically those with a disability to test your website; the insight you gain will be invaluable. Several companies offer such services which you can locate via your favourite search engine.

Technological Capability

Some organizations may be limited by technological capability. For example, there may be technological software limitations in making online maps and complex diagrams accessible to people with visual disabilities. In such cases, an accessible alternate version must be provided if requested.

A Few Useful AODA Links

About the Author
Ken GraySitecore Strategy MVP