Guidelines on Making Communications Products and Activities Accessible

Guidance on creating accessible-by-default communications products and activities
Date modified: 2022-09-08

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1. About these guidelines

  • 1.1These guidelines support the Government of Canada’s direction to ensure that departments consider accessibility when planning and developing communications products and activities. A communications product is any product produced by or on behalf of the Government of Canada that informs the public about policies, programs, services and initiatives, as well as dangers or risks to health, safety or the environment. Communications products can also aim to explain the rights, entitlements and obligations of individuals.

2. Application

3. Context

4. Guidelines

The following information is intended to help departments when creating accessible communications products and activities.

Planning

Departments are strongly encouraged to:

  • 4.1Ensure processes are in place to make communications products available in various accessible formats; and
  • 4.2Ensure visual representation of Canada’s diverse society by including images of persons with disabilities in everyday situations, fulfilling various roles.

Designing and developing

Departments are strongly encouraged to:

  • 4.3

    Write for the widest audience in plain language by:

    • 4.3.1Ensuring a maximum reading level of Grade 8 (Secondary 2 in Quebec);
    • 4.3.2Using simple and common words;
    • 4.3.3Using short and simple sentences and paragraphs;
    • 4.3.4Using the active voice;
    • 4.3.5Putting statements in a positive form;
    • 4.3.6Avoiding jargon, idioms and expressions;
    • 4.3.7Using descriptive links;
  • 4.4Provide a plain language summary of specialized material written above the Grade 8 (Secondary 2 in Quebec) reading level;
  • 4.5Consider translating the summary of communications products into American Sign Language (ASL) and langue des signes québécoise (LSQ) (for example, executive summary of a departmental plan);
  • 4.6

    Use clear and consistent layouts by:

    • 4.6.1Using fonts and font sizes that are easy to read;
    • 4.6.2Using colours that provide high contrast between the text and the background;
    • 4.6.3Using titles and headings that describe the topic or purpose;
    • 4.6.4Starting with the most important information;
    • 4.6.5Avoiding the use of emojis instead of text;
    • 4.6.6Using short, bulleted lists when possible;
    • 4.6.7Using tables to organize complex data;
    • 4.6.8Using more than colour when conveying information visually, for example, using patterns for different areas in charts and graphs;
    • 4.6.9Limiting flashing elements in visual products and ensuring that products do not have anything that flashes more than three times in one second;
    • 4.6.10Capitalizing each word in a hashtag;
  • 4.7

    Build in accessibility features for audio and visuals products by:

    • 4.7.1Writing alternative text (alt text) for informative visuals;
    • 4.7.2Including null alternative text (alt text) for decorative visuals;
    • 4.7.3Writing long descriptions for complex visuals when the information is not fully captured in the surrounding text;
    • 4.7.4Providing audio descriptions or text descriptions for videos when important visual information is not fully captured as part of the audio;
    • 4.7.5Including closed captions when posting videos to websites and social media, and open captions when closed captions are not an option; and
    • 4.7.6Writing transcripts of audio and video products.

Testing

Departments are strongly encouraged to:

  • 4.8Consult with accessibility subject-matter experts to have users with lived experience test content and provide feedback on best practices; and
  • 4.9Use automated tools to analyze accessibility features.

Implementing

Departments are strongly encouraged to:

  • 4.10Inform audiences that alternative formats are available; and
  • 4.11Consider using a real-time speech-to-text interpreting service such as communications access real-time translation (CART) for events about government policies, programs, services and initiatives.

5. References

6. Enquiries

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the President of the Treasury Board, 2022,
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