2021 AODA Website Compliance Requirements for Ontario
In 2005, AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) compliance laws were established for Ontario’s public and private entities. The AODA is intended to protect Ontarians with mental or physical disabilities, ensuring widespread accessibility standards by 2025. Currently there are five accessibility standards: employment transportation, design of public spaces, and information and communication, which includes websites.
Starting January 1, 2021 all websites for business, non-profit, and public sector organizations in Ontario must meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA standards. This applies to all public sector sites and sites for private or non-profit organizations with over 50 employees.
Ontario is the first Canadian province that’s enacted this kind of accessibility-focused legislation with a set timeline. In a collaborative and joint effort, Ontarians living with disabilities, different industry representatives, and the Government of Ontario worked to create these standards.
How do you make your website comply?
What are the AODA requirements for web accessibility? Under this legislation, websites must adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. WCAG 2.0 is an internationally accepted set of guidelines developed by a group of web accessibility experts from all over the world. It provides step-by-step instructions on how to make various components of a website fully accessible, as well as explanations about the importance of each criterion.
A quick checklist:
You can visit the Government of Ontario’s page for a more detailed checklist below
Antonio Urdaneta, Founder of Workplace Legal, reminds people these requirements are similar to those that mandated wheelchair ramps. He says
There are penalties associated with giving false and misleading information, failure to comply with an order given by a director appointed under the authority of the AODA, obstructing an inspector, or intimidation. Any of this contraventions are considered an offence, and as such may carry penalties such as fines of up to
Besides the AODA, that one individual files an application for injury to self-respect dignity and feelings for failure to accommodate a disability, with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
It's Good For Business
Online accessibility and good search engine optimization (SEO) go hand in hand. Search engines put a lot of value on accessible websites, as both accessible and search engine optimized content are properly tagged and can be read by screen reading machines. They both need a bit of extra context to figure out the type of content that a webpage is presenting.
You can boost your ranking in search engine results by following SEO best practices and accessibility requirements, including:
Correct Heading Structure
Text content instead of image content
Alternative text for all your non-decorative images
Clear and descriptive link text that stands on its own
Avoiding mouse-over effects or mouse-dependent content
In Canada, that 22 per cent amounts to approximately 6.2 million Canadians, aged 15-and-over, living with at least one type of disability, and that number is expected to grow as Canada’s population ages. According to the Royal Bank of Canada, people with disabilities have an estimated spending power of about $25 billion annually across Canada.
In addition, not only does your accessible content benefit those living with disabilities, but websites that are created with accessibility in mind from the get-go allow for a cleaner, more intuitive user experience for all audiences – boosting trust, participation and engagement along the way. In making web content accessible, businesses are improving their own corporate social responsibility by ensuring every audience member can access information and by improving the website’s user experience for every customer. It’s the definition of a win-win!
A big thank you to Antonio Urdaneta, founder of Workplace Legal, for editing this and adding his comments. If you have questions on legal issues regarding the workplace, as an employer or employee, click below;
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Omnius Web Development is a sales-oriented web development agency with an office in Burlington, ON. We do more than create websites, we help you create an online strategy that encompasses lead generation and increasing customer LTV in order for you to get the most out of your website. We service Canada.
5063 N Service Rd suite 200, Burlington, ON L7L 5H6.