Comprehensive Guide To AODA Compliance In Ontario
BY ITW Consulting
ITW Consulting Corp
Understanding The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation In Ontario
The Ontario government developed the AODA, a collection of rules, to guarantee that everyone has equal access to online information and to promote digital accessibility. You risk receiving a hefty punishment if you don’t adhere to the AODA compliance standards and accessibility guidelines.
Everything you need to know about AODA website compliance, including best practices from accessibility specialists and information on customer service standards, will be covered in this article.
What Is The Accessibility For Ontarians With Disabilities Act?
Established in 2005, the AODA stands for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Its objective was to make Ontario more accessible by enhancing website accessibility through digital compliance. The regulations were created by the government for both public and commercial organizations in Ontario to guarantee that everyone in the province has equal access to resources and information. Online sources, websites, and computer programs fall under this category.
Essentially, the AODA is a set of guidelines for private businesses and nonprofits to follow regarding accessibility. Its objective is to eliminate the hurdles to digital accessibility that individuals with disabilities would have when attempting to access online content.
To stay AODA compliant in their hiring procedures and information sharing methods, all businesses in Ontario must adhere to defined guidelines and criteria. The updated Ontarians with Disabilities Act of 2001 has been improved by the new accessibility laws.
This does not imply that the WCAG accessibility guidelines or the current Ontario Human Rights Code are replaced by the AODA. To further increase digital accessibility, AODA website compliance provides an additional layer of compliance standards. This is to guarantee that both public and commercial organizations consistently take the rights of people with disabilities into account.
Who Needs To Comply With The AODA?
This accessibility regulation must be followed by any nonprofit, for-profit, or public sector enterprise with 50 or more employees. Many committees with involvement from various sectors developed the AODA system. There is also participation from the disability community in this.
Why Is The AODA Important?
In Ontario, it’s crucial to have clear and uniform accessibility laws. In Canada, there are about 6.2 million persons with disabilities who may find it challenging to access basic necessities. Due to this, the Ontario Disabilities Act’s (AODA) regulations set a 2025 deadline for ensuring equitable accessibility for all citizens across all private and public sector institutions.
The ability of organizations to offer digital experiences that everybody can access is crucial from a financial and humanitarian standpoint.
As a result, the AODA aids in removing any obstacles to accessibility for those with impairments. All residents of the province of Ontario are given equal chances as a result.
The AODA And Web Accessibility
The most common method of finding information these days is by looking at online sites. People usually turn to the internet as their first resource for finding answers to questions.
Utilizing and navigating websites can be very difficult for those with disabilities. An illustration. It’s possible that someone with a handicap that affects their vision, hearing, or motor abilities won’t be able to use a website in the same way that other people would and may need special accommodations because of their condition.
People lose out on the tremendous amount of information and services offered on organizations’ websites if they are unable to browse web pages properly. As a result, it severely restricts their access to crucial resources and chances. This violates fundamental principles governing equality and human rights.
The AODA’s web accessibility guidelines contribute to ensuring equality. The primary purpose of the Act is to increase accessibility and guarantee that all people of Ontario have equal access to resources.
The AODA Accessibility Laws
The AODA was put into place by the Ontario government for compliance by all pertinent for-profit and private businesses.
Organizations meeting the criteria set forth by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act must submit AODA progress reports and adhere to all other regulations (AODA). The specific AODA regulations and non-compliance levels depend on the size of the business, the kind of information and services it offers in Ontario, and other factors.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
All websites in Ontario must adhere to the most recent version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines in order to be accessible to everyone (WCAG). These are the general prerequisites and recommendations needed to build a website that is broadly accessible to people with impairments.
Three levels of WCAG accessibility
- Level A features for basic web accessibility
- Level AA: Removes the most frequent obstacles for users who are impaired
- The highest level of web accessibility is Level AAA
In order to assist those with vision impairments, the recommendations recommend things like enlarging the text on your page, using a text resizer, and giving screen readers the option to play audio.
Organizations are not required to adhere to two of the WCAG accessibility requirements for their websites. Live captioning and pre-recorded audio descriptions are the two exceptions to this rule.
It’s crucial to constantly examine your website to make sure it complies with WCAG requirements. To make sure you are adhering to all accessibility requirements for users in Canada and internationally, use our AODA Compliance Checklist.
The 5 AODA Accessibility Standards
Organizations that come under the following categories must adhere to all five AODA regulations. Each category offers website owners a way to evaluate the user experience their website offers while assisting in the removal of barriers related to various online accessibility issues. People with accessibility needs should be able to contact you and send emails to you at a business email account to report any problems they may have with your website.
Information And Communications
Any information and content that your website disseminates to the public must be simple for individuals with disabilities to access. This includes content from your website, such as apps, PDFs, and videos.
Requests for accessibility must be free of charge. Removing obstacles to accessing this information could entail implementing measures like:
- video live captions, audio descriptions, and text substitutes
- audio content transcriptions in writing; likewise, larger text sizes
The ability to pause, rewind, and fast-forward via audio and video material is necessary.
In the end, there shouldn’t ever be just one method to use a website to obtain and consume content.
Any company that sells products or offers services must maintain AODA compliance throughout the client experience. All eCommerce websites must comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and be completely accessible, comprehensible, and simple to browse for all users.
Any customer support chat services that companies provide must adhere to the appropriate laws. Anyone who has trouble reading, using a mouse, or typing needs a different way to get in touch with help.
Websites must abide by all applicable AODA rules. These modifications must be understood by all company personnel. It’s crucial to inform all staff members of an organization’s new website’s AODA compliance requirements.
To ensure that all staff are able to access and make the necessary modifications on a website, current website training must be provided. Not just staff that interact with customers need to know this. Employees with impairments are subject to these accessibility rules as well. Every organization must ensure that any technology used in the development or management of their website is usable by any employees who have disabilities.
All suppliers of transportation services must guarantee that all technical elements and equipment on their routes allow complete accessibility for Ontarians.
A transportation business must provide all passengers with information on changes to its route itinerary in an accessible format, for instance. For instance, if a transportation company distributes a PDF detailing its current routes, this document should also be made accessible to those with visual impairments.
Design Of Public Spaces
The public spaces standard makes ensuring that no aspect of any constructed environment poses a barrier to those who are disabled. This comprises locations like walking pathways, picnic areas, playgrounds, parking spaces, and open spaces for transit.
Individuals are completely accessible in both physical locations and online ones thanks to the five AODA criteria.
Must My Website be AODA Compliant?
If their website satisfies the type and size specifications, all organizations in Ontario are required to adhere to the AODA laws. If the required compliance standards are not met by the content of your website, you could be subject to a fine of up to $100,000 for each day that the requirements are broken.
By January 2021, all websites must adhere to WCAG Level AA guidelines and be AODA compliant. By June 2022, the WCAG 2.2 standards will be complete, giving website owners enough time to make changes to their sites. You can access the draft of these most recent standards here.
Update Old Content To Comply With AODA
After January 1, 2012, all website content must adhere to WCAG Level A compliance criteria. Therefore, if you still have any outdated web content, you should update it to comply with the most recent AODA rules.
Public Sector Organizations And Businesses In Ontario Need To Be AODA Compliant
The AODA law must be followed by all organizations in the public sector in Ontario. If a company has at least 50 employees and at least one of those employees is located in Ontario, Canada, it must comply with AODA law in order to offer the public excellent services or facilities.
The Removal Of Barriers With AODA Compliance
For Ontarians with disabilities to have equal accessibility, AODA compliance is a crucial answer. A whole new world of internet resources open up for people with disabilities who may not have been able to access these services in the past if all organizations comply (which they need to do).
Not only is it crucial that your company provides full accessibility, but failing to comply with the requirements could result in a sizable charge.
When creating a custom website, ITW Consulting follows all AODA guidelines and industry best practices. Reach out to us if you’re building a new site or updating an old one and need assistance with enhancing your online experience to see how we can keep your business compliant with an unique website design. We are standing by to ensure that your website and business are fully compliant and you can focus on the things that truly matter. Such as growing and taking care of your customers and clients.