Businesses that don’t prioritize accessibility may soon face significant penalties. The deadline to file an AODA accessibility compliance report was June 30, 2021
What may happen if businesses fail to comply?
The maximum penalties under the AODA include:
Corporations can be fined up to $100,000 per day.
Individuals and unincorporated organizations can be fined up to $50,000 per day.
Directors and officers of a corporation or organization can be fined up to $50,000 per day
What is the AODA?
Enacted in 2005, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was created to improve accessibility standards for Ontarians and ensure that those with physical or cognitive disabilities would be able to fully access all public establishments by January 1, 2025.
The AODA was developed to build on the efforts made by the Ontarians with the 2001 Disabilities Act and includes accessibility standards for key areas of everyday life:
Information and communication
Together, these five categories of standards detailed in the AODA Act make up the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulations (IASR), which were progressively implemented over several years.
The most relevant category to website owners is “information and communication”
A Short History of the AODA
The AODA stems from the Ontario Human Rights Code, which was passed in the early 90s. The code made it unlawful to discriminate based on disability.
It was in 1994 that the development of the AODA officially began, starting with the introduction of the ODA, or Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The aim of the ODA was to remove and prevent any barriers that made it difficult for people living with disabilities to fully participate as members of society – the ODA became official law in 2001.
Following government elections in 2003, more focus was placed on strengthening the ODA, so the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council was established. This resulted in the AODA being passed as law in 2005.
And in 2011, the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) unified the five standards of the AODA, namely Employment, Design of Public Spaces, Information & Communication, Transportation, and Customer Service.
What’s Being Done to Assist Disabled Ontarians Online?
There’s no denying that there are serious online barriers affecting the daily lives of Ontario’s disabled citizens, which is why the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was introduced in 2005.
In line with the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulations (IASR), the AODA is targeting these key areas online:
Customer service standard
Information and communication standard
Design of public spaces standard
In 2019, an announcement was made that all businesses and non-profit organizations with 20+ employees must submit accessibility compliance reports, making them accountable for their part in creating a more inclusive online environment and society as a whole.
The deadline for this was June 2021. The certificate that these businesses and organizations received also needs to be renewed every three years and every two years for critical public sector organizations to ensure ongoing compliance.
Is the AODA relevant for my business?
It is actually very simple to know if the AODA applies to your business.
Answer this question: Is your business registered in Ontario? If yes, then the AODA is applicable to your organization.
Unlike the ACA, which is applicable to federally governed businesses and organizations, the AODA applies to both governmental and private websites, whether individuals or corporations run them.
How to Make Your Website Accessible & AODA Complaint
Now that you have a basic understanding of the AODA, it’s time to get technical.
What does it actually mean to make your website accessible? And to who exactly?
In this chapter, we’ll cover all of that and more.
AODA Compliance -Making Your Website Accessible
Now that we’ve covered AODA basics, we can jump into the technical aspects. Exactly how do you make your website accessible? It all starts with WCAG (the accessibility standard).
This 80-page document offers specific instructions on how to make a website accessible. However, since this is a sizeable document, we decided to condense this information.
Let’s start with who you need to make your website accessible for:
* Users with visual impairments
* Users with auditory impairments
* Users with physical impairments
* Users with cognitive impairments
Next, let’s look at how you would make your website accessible to all users.
Add a Website Accessibility Interface to Your Site
When you have an accessibility interface, any visitor can adjust the design of your site to cater to their requirements. For example, someone with a visual impairment can adjust the size and color of the text, while someone with ADHD can reduce distractions, making your site easier to use.
Cater to Assistive Technologies
The other step you will need to take to make your website accessible is to ensure it’s compatible with screen readers and navigation tools.
A screen reader makes it possible for visually impaired users to read all content on a webpage, including the alternative text of images. Alternative text explains what a user would see in a picture using descriptive language. Therefore, all visuals on your site should have alt tags.
Navigation tools are used by people who don’t have a full motor function – they allow for ease of movement when browsing a website. This means some keyboard keys will perform specific functions and on-screen keyboards will contain shortcuts to make navigation easier.
At this stage, you’re probably thinking that website accessibility sounds like a complex project. But with the right software, AODA compliance is easier than you think.
We hope this guide answered all your most pressing questions about website accessibility.
To begin your digital accessibility journey, you can scan your website for free and see where your business stands.
Scan your website for accessibility related issues for free
AODA is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. This act, which was developed and is enforced in Ontario Canada, contains guidelines and requirements that website owners need to meet in order to make their sites accessible to all, regardless of ability.
AODA compliance is a legal requirement in Ontario Canada. To be compliant means your website meets the necessary web accessibility requirements that make it possible for everyone to access products, services and content online, regardless of ability.
There are exactly 3 AODA training modules:
1. Module 1 – Understanding the AODA and the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service
2. Module 2 – Communicating with Customers with Disabilities
3. Module 3 – Serving Customers with Disabilities
AODA training was created to provide employees with basic accessibility knowledge, helping them understand how it affects those living with disabilities. The training covers all forms of disability, including physical, visible, and non-visible disabilities.
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