Standards and legislation

W3C WAI WCAG - ADA -Section 508 - AODASGQRI 008- RGAA - ISO/ - IEC 40500 - AccessiWeb

All local standards and laws are based on the W3C standard. Only a few technical criteria differ, especially the legal implications. Here are some explanations.



The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) is an international standards organization. It is responsible for HTML, CSS, and many other standards that we use every day in our work.


The WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) was one of the first standards published by the W3C (04/1997). It now includes the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) and ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) recommendations.

These recommendations are the basis for all national standards.


WCAG are the technical criteria to follow and are divided into:

  • 4 general principles (perceivable, usable, understandable and robust)
  • divided into 12 rules
  • which themselves contain the 78 success criteria (61 success criteria for version 2.0 and 17 more for version 2.1)
  • These are divided into 3 categories of compliance (or importance)
    • A : essential
    • AA : very important
    • AAA : important


On October 26, 2012, WCAG 2.0 became an international standard: ISO/IEC 40500.

This means that many countries without national standards can rely on this international standard. ISI is widely used in Europe and Asia, but very little in North America.


Canada (Federal) – Canadian Accessibility Act

Canada’s federal digital accessibility standard, based on WCAG and adopted on June 21, 2019, applies to the following sectors:

  • Parliament, including the Senate, the House of Commons, the Library of Parliament, and the Parliamentary Protective Service
  • Government of Canada, including departments, Crown corporations and agencies
  • The Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
  • The federally regulated private sector, including
    • Transportation organizations
    • Broadcasting and telecommunications services
    • Banking and financial services

Fines can be up to $250,000

Canada (Quebec) - SGQRI 008 (Standard du Gouvernement du Québec sur les Ressources Informationnelles)

In May 2011, the Government of Quebec adopted a standard text on accessibility for public Internet, intranet and extranet sites.

The Quebec regulation was updated in July 2018 and is now based on WCAG 2.0 level AA, plus some additional criteria.

It applies to:

  • Public entities covered by the Governance Act (government websites)
  • Public enterprises in the health and education sectors

Canada (Ontario) – AODA

Ontario’s legislation, passed in June 2005 (and subsequently updated), is one of the most restrictive. It is based on WCAG 2.1 AA.

It applies to:

  • Ontario Government and Legislative Assembly
  • Designated public sector organizations
  • Private organizations, regardless of origin (if they have more than 50 employees in Ontario)

Fines can be up to $100,000 per day.

USA - Section 508

Section 508 is an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that extends protections for people with disabilities to government Web sites and organizations that receive public funding.
Each state has laws that may extend the requirements of Section 508.

Based on WCAG 2.0 AA. Risk of litigation.


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law passed by the U.S. Congress in 1990 and updated in 2017. It is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.

It applies to:

  • - Businesses with 15 or more employees working for federal, state, and local governments, employment agencies, labor unions, employer representatives, and joint labor-management committees.
  • - Federal, state, and local government programs and activities (and those that receive $2,500 or more in funding from state and local governments). This includes most colleges and universities.
  • - Private entities that are considered public accommodations or places that sell products to the public. This includes sales and rental establishments, service establishments, and those that provide goods and services to the public. Includes nonprofit service providers.
    Includes financial services, health services, hotels, online sales, etc.

Based on WCAG 2.0 AA. Risk of litigation.

European standard for the accessibility of ICT products and services

It aims to make public sector websites and mobile applications more accessible and to harmonize different standards across the European Union, thus reducing barriers for developers of accessibility products and services.

Key points

  • 2018 Revision of the European Standard for Accessibility of ICT Products and Services
  • Based on WCAG 2.1 AA
  • Each member country responsible for transposition into local legislation

France - RGAA

Référentiel Général d’Amélioration de l’Accessibilité

This document defines the technical procedures for the implementation of the Decree implementing Law n°2005-102 of February 2005 on Equal Rights and Opportunities, Participation and Citizenship for People with Disabilities.

Key points

  • - All public-sector sites
  • - private organizations with a public service mission, as well as companies with annual sales of over 250 million (decree of July 25, 2019)
  • - Based on WCAG 2.1 AA (from version 4)

Rest of the world

Most of international legislation  Opens a new window is listed on this W3C page.