Website Accessibility

AODA Compliance for Websites: The Definitive Guide

AODA Compliance for Websites: The Definitive Guide

If you’re looking to make your website accessible and AODA compliant in 2024 you’ve reached the right place!

In this guide we will teach you:

  • What is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and who must comply?
  • Step by step – How to make your website compliant and protected from penalties
  • Compare the best accessibility solutions in the market and their rankings 
  • Lots more

This is a one-stop shop for anyone looking to understand and solve the issue of web accessibility.

Let’s get started.

AODA Compliance Report Deadline

Businesses that don’t prioritize accessibility may soon face significant penalties. Businesses with 20 or more employees, as well as all public sector organizations, need to file an AODA accessibility compliance report by Dec 31, 2023.

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

Yikes!AODA compliance

What is the AODA?

AODA compliance for websites

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:

  • Customer service
  • Information and communication
  • Employment
  • Built environment
  • Transportation

Together, the 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

History of the DDA

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 ODA aimed 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 a law in 2005. 

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 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 certificate that these businesses and organizations receive also needs to be renewed every three years and every two years for critical public sector organizations to ensure ongoing compliance. 

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. 

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 applies to federally governed businesses and organizations, the AODA applies to both governmental and private websites, whether individuals or corporations run them.

Accessibility Checker

Scan your website for accessibility related issues for free

Chapter 2:

How to Make Your Website Accessible & AODA Complaint

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 whom 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). 

WCAG, or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, are the guidelines referenced in the AODA – WCAG 2.0 specifically. This is the standard to follow to become AODA compliant. 

This 80-page document offers specific instructions on how to make a website accessible. However, since this is a sizable document, we decided to condense this information.

The Who

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

woman with motor impairment

The How

Next, let’s look at some of the immediate steps you can take to make your website accessible.

Any non-text-based content such as images should have alternative text. For videos and audio files, add captions and transcripts. This ensures that users who rely on assistive technology such as screen readers can fully understand what’s on a page.

Just like some users rely on screen readers, there will be users who cannot use a mouse. For this reason, it’s essential for all website functionality to be operable via keyboard. 

If any of your site’s content is timed, make sure that a user has enough time to read it or complete a function such as filling out a form. It’s also best to not have any time-outs without warning a user about it first. Give visitors the option to request more time or deactivate any time-outs.

Some users will find scrolling, blinking, and moving content distracting and difficult to engage with. Be sure to offer the option to pause, stop, or hide elements such as carousels, automatic updates, or tickers. 

Avoid content and media that flashes as this might induce seizures in some of your visitors. 

To cater to users with color blindness and low vision, the contrast between text and the background of your site should be 4:5:1. For larger or bold text and non-text items, a ratio of 3:1 should be applied. There are no contrast restrictions for brand names and logos. 

Should a visitor need to increase the size of the text on any given page, your website should not lose any functionality. All text should also still be visible on the screen. 

Consistent and predictable navigation is another aspect of website accessibility. Your navigation should always appear in the same place and in the same order. The same applies to any other functional components of your site.

 If your site houses any documents such as Word or PDF documents, make sure these are accessible too.  

By correctly labeling forms, a visitor knows exactly what is expected of them. It also ensures screen readers can clearly read out form fields and descriptions. 

Unfortunately, CAPTCHA codes can be difficult for people with disabilities to complete. If you must use a CAPTCHA test, opt for one that is compatible with assistive technology.

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. 

Our Recommended AODA Compliance Solutions

accessibe logoaccessiBe
  • AODA
  • ADA
  • WCAG
  • Section 508

If you want your site to be AODA compliant, accessiBe comes highly recommended. It’s one of the quickest and simplest ways to identify accessibility issues on your site, ensuring you’re compliant globally. Installation is fast and new users can access a 7-day free trial to test out the tool’s capabilities, including the accessibility panel that your customers will be utilizing on the front end.  acessiBe’s AI analyzes and scans websites using contextual understanding and recognition. It learns which elements and functions are being used and adjusts them accordingly.

Pros

  • Account managers available to guide you through the product, pricing, and any questions you may have
  • Fast turnaround with a 5 min installation, and 48-hour compliance process
  • 200,000+ clients use accessiBe including legal and government organizations
  • Includes accessibility statement and certification

Cons

  • Built specifically for websites and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)- some web apps might not be compatible

Existing Clients

Userway service logoUserWay
  • AODA
  • WCAG
  • ADA
  • Section 508

This automated, AI-powered solution is another firm favorite among businesses of all sizes. Like many other of the top tools, UserWay ensures your site is ADA Title 3, Section 508, AODA, and WCAG 2.1 compliant. The UserWay panel allows your customers to modify your storefront in a way that meets their needs as disabled user. The tool is also capable of helping you generate an accessibility statement.

Pros

  • Quick and easy process
  • 1M+ website installations
  • Affordable cost & dynamic pricing
  • Multiple solutions and services offered

Cons

  • Does not include mobile apps as of now

Existing Clients

logo of Duke University
Toyota Logo
Chapter 3:

Summary

Summary

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.

Accessibility Checker

Scan your website for accessibility related issues for free

Frequently Asked Questions

AODA refers to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. These laws were developed in Ontario Canada and help enforce accessibility standards across all sectors.

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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