The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is a set of laws that go about making the province more accessible. The goal is to make the government, non-profits and private sector businesses accessible to the 15.5% of Ontarians with disabilities. The law was passed in 2005, it has many goals and timelines but the main objective is to make the entire province accessible by 2025. Although the laws cover various types of accessibility, for this article we will focus on the online requirements.
Nonprofits or private companies with 50 or more employees and all public sector organizations are required to make their websites accessible. This applies specifically to new websites or websites that are being significantly updated.
Starting January 1, 2014 all new public websites and any new content posted after January 1, 2012 needs to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A. These requirements are currently enforceable, but a more significant deadline is still to come. Starting January 1, 2021 all new websites and web content posted after January 1, 2012 will need to be Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA. There are only two exceptions to these requirements, live captions and pre-recorded audio descriptions.
Why It Matters?
These requirements are important because they will help make Ontario more accessible to everyone. They also help enforce a higher standard in web accessibility and standard compliant web pages. Making accessible websites isn’t hard, it is a matter of building them properly. For these reasons, the AODA is enforcing a higher standard of quality.
These rules are also important because they mean that businesses are required to ensure that their websites are accessible. More importantly, by not being accessible you are preventing part of the market from using your website and excluding potential clients. Unfortunately sometimes doing the right thing isn’t enough, so these laws introduce some additional risks to organizations. If these requirements are not met there is the potential for government penalties or the possibility of being sued.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is working to make Ontario a more accessible place, which is important for everyone. Regrettably these laws will also cost business additional money to implement. Luckily, by hing a web accessibility consultant for your next web project you can insure your web properties are up to standards before they go online. This will help you avoid risks in the future and help you save money by not having to hire an extra employees.