Beyond Websites

Websites vs Desktop Applications

While the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were initially developed for websites, the principles of WCAG can be applied to desktop applications too. As an example, the ETSI 301 549 standards (the European accessibility standards) build off and reference WCAG. The core principles are similar, and some WCAG techniques can apply to software applications. (See Guidance on Applying WCAG 2.0 to Non-Web Information and Communications Technologies.)

Note that one important difference is that automated testing is limited for desktop accessibility. Please refer to the sections on Testing and on Accessibility Insights

Functional Accessibility Requirements (FARs)

FARs are part of ETSI 301 549. Government of Ontario’s Information and Communications Standards Development Committee recommended adopting a set of FARs in its review of the Information and Communications Standards. These recommendations have not been adopted into law.

FARs describe the functionality that must be available to ensure information and communications are more accessible to people with disabilities. They do not define the exact method of achieving that functionality.

For example, when visual information is provided, the FARs require that:

  • There is a way to perceive and understand the information without vision
  • The presentation must be adjustable to support limited vision and/or visual perception or processing (magnification, contrast, spacing, visual emphasis, layout)
  • There is a way to perceive and understand the information without relying on colour distinction
  • The presentation must avoid characteristics that would trigger photosensitive seizures
  • Making alternative formats of the presentation must be possible, such as tactile formats


Similar FARs are written with different disabilities and impairments in mind, detailing requirements for “where speech is required to operate a function” and “where operation has time limits”.




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eCampusOntario's Digital Accessibility Toolkit Copyright © by eCampus Ontario is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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