AODA Requirement in effect as of effect January 1, 2021

According to the Government of Ontario, all web content including PDFs and other media, must meet AODA requirements to be WCAG 2.0 AA compliant as of January 1, 2021.

Project Update: January 15, 2021

  1. PDF Submissions. Effective February 12th, 2021, all website/web content submission will require that accessibility requirements are met prior to being posted on our external websites. This is an AODA requirement that public websites and web contents must meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA effective January 1, 2021. Please ensure that accessibility requirements are scoped in during the document creation process to avoid delays in posting. Should there be circumstances (i.e. regulatory requirements) that need consideration, please reach out to Digital Solutions to review as soon as possible. If a document cannot be posted in an Accessible format beyond a temporary status, Digital Solutions will require an email that a VP (who is accountable for the Regulatory Compliance Management Annual Attestations within the department) has signed-off on accepting the risk of being non-compliant.
  2. Target Date. For the PDF Accessibility project, we are working towards a target date of completion of March 31, 2021. A few key things about this – if we are audited by the Ministry, we want to have a date to provide them as part of our overall action plan. We are aware there may be some situations in which this date may not be realistic. Should there be a circumstances in which a PDF may not meet the target date, if you can connect with myself so we can outline a timeline that I can share if we get audited.
  3. Training. We are in the final stages of moving forward with training. We understand that there are business areas that are waiting for training to increase knowledge and skillset for making PDFs accessible and we are moving as quickly as possible to have this in place. We will send a separate email once this is finalized and send out placeholder invites for training (more than one training date will be offered) for those that require it.
  4. Remediation. Remediation offerings are through the same vendor as training and we will provide an update once that is in place.
  5. Spreadsheet expectations. A reminder to please ensure you are updating the spreadsheet with changes/progress as the data is used for tracking and reporting our progress. If there are updates to be made, PDF owners will update columns I, J, L, V and X and Digital Solutions will update columns Y, Z, AA and AB. Please select this link and access the Files section of the spreadsheet for your updates. We request that those persons who work on PDFs follow the Teams Chat content as technical updates/information are communicated via this method.
  6. Project Progress updates. Email updates will come on a bi-weekly basis until further notice.

Please review the PDF accessibility guidelines on this page for detailed instructions on making your PDFs accessible.

Digital Solutions team will be screening all incoming PDFs to ensure they are accessible and if they are not they will be sent back. Digital Solutions will no longer post PDFs to our sites if they are not compliant.

**Create a backup copy of your PDF document before using any accessibility tools in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. Some changes cannot be reversed after an update has been made.**

If you need any support, please reach out to Digital Solutions at digital_solutions@cooperators.ca or Enterprise Compliance at kimberly_hutchison@cooperators.ca.

PDF Accessibility Requirements & Guides

Note: The requirements outlined here are mandatory. Your team is responsible for the accessibility of your PDF(s), including running your own accessibility checks. The Digital Solutions team should be treated as the last step in the proccess, where we will run a check to ensure nothing was missed before publishing. In the event we find an accessibility error, we will send the document(s) back for revision.

If you have questions on anything covered in this guide please reach out to us at digital_solutions@cooperators.ca

Accessibility is an on going proccess and this guide will be updated from time to time to accomodate this evoloving practice.

Our team uses Adobe Acrobat Pro DC for PDF accessibility and this guide was created based on that platform. Do not use the free PDFCreator program that is available, it does not support accessibility.


Download accessible PDF Checklist

Download accessible PDF example: Extended health care form

For visual learners, this youtube tutorial is very useful.

This written guide from Adobe takes you through the Prepare Form process.

Autotagging a document

Autotag is a feature available in Adobe Acrobat, however, it requires specific setings to work properly. We strongly recommend that you do not use this feature unless you are familiar with the process.

These settings are implemented before the document becomes a PDF. They identify structure types such as headings, paragraphs, tables, forms, etc.. They must be set in InDesign or Word before it's exported, otherwise when the document is converted into a PDF there is no structure for the Autotag feature to use, so it guesses.

Using this feature without the proper settings in place will not result in an accessible PDF. It will result in the form of disorganized tags, lots of extra tags that must be sorted through and removed, incorrect tags that must be fixed and so on. Fixing a document that has been auto tagged without the proper settings takes much longer to fix then manually tagging the document.

If you do not know if your document has these settings, do not use the Autotag feature. If our team receives a document to review that has been incorrectly tagged with the Autotag feature, we will send it back.

French documents

The only part of PDF accessibility that may require translation is if you need alt text for an image, link or form field Tooltip. Generally, you can use phrases from the document itself, but if you require specific alt text that is not contained in the document you will need to submit a Broca request. Some form fields need extra context in the Tooltip to provide users with the proper instructions; if this is needed in any of your form fields you will likely need translation.