Making communications accessible in the Government of Canada

Accessibility is about respecting differences and removing barriers so that everyone can participate. When we create communications products that are accessible, we make it possible for everyone to fully:

On this page:

Principles of accessible design

When designing communications products and activities:

  • Make information clear, concise and easy to use
  • Present information in predictable, barrier‑free ways 
  • Provide barrier‑free ways for people to interact with you
  • Make sure technology-based products work with assistive technologies and devices

Best practices include:

  • making sure that all communications, such as press releases, backgrounders and videos, are accessible and available in various formats
  • designing products and activities with accessibility in mind from the start (instead of adapting them at the end)
  • consulting the Digital Accessibility Toolkit for guidance on how to make accessible products using PowerPoint, Word, Excel, Visio and PDF
  • using plain language at all times
  • using automated tools such as colour-contrast analyzers and reading-level tests
  • having users with lived experience test your content
  • making sure that products work with assistive technologies and devices
  • following the POUR principles for web content: it must be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust

Creating digital content

Writing accessible web content

  • Write for your audience
  • Consult the Canada.ca Content Style Guide for guidance, including tips on how to use:
    • lists
    • plain language
    • short paragraphs
    • images and alt text
    • use interactive tools to help simplify content

Developing accessible social media content

To help make social media content accessible, remember to:

  • include alternative text (alt text) for all photos and graphics that you share
  • use closed captions when posting videos on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and websites, including Canada.ca
  • use open captions when posting videos on Instagram (Instagram does not support closed captions)
  • provide a link to an accessible web version of information in social media posts, where possible
  • transcribe podcasts in both official languages and upload the transcript, along with the podcast audio files to the destination channel (for example, iTunes)
  • provide audio description of videos, especially when they contain only images and music

You can also consult the guidelines on the Office of Public Service Accessibility GCpedia page (accessible only on the Government of Canada network) and the Canada.ca Content Style Guide.

Other considerations:

  • GIFs: avoid using GIFs; some of them have rapid animation and lights, which can cause seizures
  • Emojis: don’t use emojis instead of meaningful or important text
  • Hashtags: use CamelCase (capitalize each word), to make it easier for adaptive technology such as screen readers to recognize and pronounce the individual words
  • Sharing content: when you link to the content of other individuals or organizations in a post, provide some context and explain the piece of content you are linking to. If that content is not fully accessible, inform your audience of the limitations

Using images

  • Use images such as graphics to provide an overview of key information or to enhance key messages.
  • Keep in mind that images can be problematic because:
    • adaptive technology such as screen readers don’t always recognize graphics and PDFs
    • they can be difficult to view on mobile devices
    • they can take a long time to load on devices
  • Include alternative text (alt text) and long descriptions
    • alt text describes essential information or functions
    • long descriptions explain information that is presented in complex graphics or images

For more guidance on images, consult the Canada.ca Content Style Guide.

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