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Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Compliance

The AODA and web accessibility

 

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was enacted in 2005 and specifically mandates that websites, web content and web-based applications must be accessible for individuals with disabilities.

 

But the sector and size of your business matters when it comes to AODA compliance:

 

  • All Ontario public sector organizations (government, municipalities, and educational institutions) must comply.
  • All commercial organizations that provide goods, services or facilities to the public, and have at least one employee in Ontario, must comply.
  • Large businesses (50 or more employees) must comply.
  • Smaller companies (those with less than 50 employees) are exempt.

 

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WCAG: The standard for AODA compliance

To comply with the AODA’s web accessibility requirements, all web content must conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines – or WCAG – 2.0 AA success criteria with two exceptions: criteria 1.2.4 (live captions) and criteria 1.2.5 (audio descriptions). The deadline for AODA web compliance was January 1, 2021.

WCAG is a set of technical standards that, when applied, make online content accessible for users of all abilities. At a high level, WCAG standards suggest a site should be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust:

  • Perceivable = It’s important to present information that can be perceived in different ways, where a user can adjust color contrast or font size, or view captions for videos.
  • Operable = If someone can’t use a mouse, for example, they can use a keyboard or voice command.
  • Understandable = Information and instructions are clear and navigation methods are easy to understand and use.
  • Robust = Content must be robust enough so that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of users and types of assistive technologies.

WCAG was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and updates are reflected in the version number. For example, the first release was WCAG 1.0. Subsequent releases include 2.0, 2.1, and we anticipate 2.2 updates in the coming months. A, AA, and AAA represent the conformance level with A the minimum and AAA the maximum.

As the shared global standard, WCAG is consistently referenced as the benchmark for accessibility. Conform with WCAG 2.0 AA, and you’re compliant with the AODA as well as the ADA, Section 508 and other regulations.

Why Accessibility?

Digital accessibility isn’t just about WCAG or ADA compliance. It’s about reaching and serving 100% of the world’s population.