Imagine the following scenario: you’re blind and you need to send an e-transfer, but you’re unable to access your bank account online because your bank’s website hasn’t been made accessible to the visually impaired.
Examples like this remind able-bodied people of how many things we take for granted, and why we need legislation like the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
My father had multiple sclerosis and was confined to a wheelchair, so I know first hand how difficult things can be for people with disabilities.
We at The Best Media applaud the province for enacting this legislation. The implementation of its stated goals is well overdue.
The act was enacted in 2005, with its purpose being to develop, implement and enforce accessibility standards related to “goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises” no later than January 1, 2025.
To simplify, the goal of the legislation, as it relates to websites, is simply to make website content accessible to everyone, including Ontarians with disabilities.
With that said, I’m going to break down how this act applies to websites, why you need to comply, and how we can help your website to achieve AODA compliance.
How AODA Compliance Applies to Websites
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is quite complex and extremely lengthy, so out of respect for my time and yours, I will do my best to summarize.
This act deals with a wide range of aspects related to accessibility, but for the purposes of this blog, I’m going to focus solely on websites.
The rules that apply to websites in the act are referred to as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
The video below is from the World Wide Web Consortium, which drafted the guidelines, and it provides some more details on them and how they can improve user experience for everyone.
WCAG Principles of Accessibility
These guidelines are based on four principles that outline how web content can be made accessible to everyone.
User interface (UI) components and information on the web must be perceivable for all users.
All users must be able to operate navigation and UI components, and the interface should not necessitate actions that users can’t perform.
Every user must be able to understand the information on websites and how to operate their UI.
Content on the web should be interpretable by all users, should be compatible with assistive technologies and the content should remain accessible as these technologies advance.
Each principle contains several guidelines for ensuring that these standards are met, but there is a ton of stuff in there, so check out the WCAG quick reference guide if you want to know more.
The Bottom Line
Admittedly, the requirements outlined in the AODA are incredibly exhaustive, not least in how they apply to websites.
But unless you’re self-employed and have no employees, can prove that the content on your site is not under your control, or that it’s impossible to implement these changes, refusing to comply can result in some serious financial consequences – this includes fines of up to $100,000 per day.
As of January 1, 2021, the province is going to start cracking down on websites and web content that fail to meet these requirements.
However, business owners shouldn’t consider this a burden, but rather, an opportunity.
According to Accessibility Ontario, more than 15 per cent of Ontarians have a disability.
If you’re neglecting the needs of such a large percentage of Ontario’s population, it could be affecting your reputation, not to mention your bottom line.
So why not take this opportunity to help disabled Ontarians, many of whom would be proud to give their business to a company that addresses their needs?
Not sure where to begin when it comes to making sure your website is AODA compliant? Contact The Best Media and let our experts take care of it for you.