AODA: Why it’s Important & When It’ll be Mandatory
In a survey conducted in 2017, Statistics Canada found that 22%, or 6.2 million people, have at least one disability. Whether related to hearing, seeing, or mobility, almost a quarter of all Canadians face daily barriers that affect how they interact with the world around them. To ensure people with disabilities are able to access information like everyone else, the Canadian government has introduced legislation to remove those barriers. Entitled ‘The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act’, the AODA aims to create requirements for accessibility for services in public spaces. This also extends to websites and other digital products.
Beginning January 1, 2021, all public websites and web content posted after January 1, 2012 must meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Level AA. By January 1, 2025, public and private websites will be required to be following AODA. Penalties for not following the act could result in a fine of up to $100,000 each day that your site does not follow the act!
Unpacking AODA & WCAG
Broadly speaking, AODA was introduced to benefit all Ontarians by ensuring accessibility standards are implemented and enforced. Accessibility standards can be thought of as barriers: something in place that blocks users from being able to access content. WCAG are recommendations developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to make web content more accessible. Developed in cooperation with individuals and corporations around the world with the goal of creating a standard for what accessible web content entails. The goal is to provide universal standards for implementing and maintain accessible web content.
Why Accessibility Matters
Beyond the legal ramifications of ensuring your site is accessible, following the guidelines of AODA and WCAG creates a user-focused experience, one that aims to ensure all users using your websites can do so freely without borders. Accessibility standards, at their core, aim to improve the quality of using the web so that no matter how a user accesses a web page, they can do so without fear of missing out because of a disability.
Check Your Site
They are many online tools to check whether your current site is accessible or not. https://www.boia.org/w3c-tools-services-a11y provides you the option to enter the link for your website and they will produce a free WCAG 2.1 report emailed to you within 36 hours.
How Simplistics Works with AODA & WCAG
At Simplistics, we will work with you to ensure your website meets the requirements for AODA and provides the best user-experience for all users. We will go through your site and ensure it is meeting the requirements and if it isn’t, we can get it to where it needs to be.
Official site for AODA — https://www.aoda.ca/
Guidelines for WCAG 2.1 — https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/#normative-references
A11y audit — https://www.boia.org/w3c-tools-services-a11y
Overview of Canada’s Accessibility Laws — https://siteimprove.com/en-ca/blog/a-complete-overview-of-canada-s-accessibility-laws/