People with different abilities and restrictions must be able to access the internet. The AODA aims to make Ontario disability-friendly by 2025. The AODA mandates accessibility requirements in customer service, information and communications, employment, transit, and public space design. This article will discuss AODA compliance, its benefits and requirements, and real-life examples of enterprises enhancing web accessibility.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is AODA Compliance?
- 2 AODA Compliance Benefits
- 3 AODA Compliance Requirements
- 4 Web Accessibility: AODA Standards
- 5 Steps to Achieve AODA Compliance
- 6 Real-Life Success Stories
What Is AODA Compliance?
Organizations must make their information and communications accessible to individuals with disabilities under the AODA. The AODA’s accessibility guidelines follow WCAG 2.0’s three compliance levels: A, AA, and AAA. Organizations must follow WCAG 2.0 Level AA, except for live captions and audio descriptions.
AODA Compliance Benefits
AODA compliance is not only a matter of law and ethics, but also a matter of business and innovation. By making your website accessible, you can:
1. Reach a larger and more diverse audience
Statistics Canada reports that 22% of Canadians have a disability, a growing number expected to increase as the population ages. Making websites accessible can reach this growing market and non-disabled individuals.
2. Improves your User experience and boosts SEO
Enhances user experience and satisfaction by making websites more usable, functional, and compatible with various devices and technologies. It also boosts SEO and online visibility by making websites more discoverable, indexable, and rankable by search engines, increasing web traffic, conversions, and sales.
3. Foster a culture of inclusion and innovation
Promotes inclusion, innovation, and diversity within an organization, enhancing brand image, attracting talent, and inspiring creativity.
AODA Compliance Requirements
To comply with the AODA, you need to meet the web accessibility requirements that apply to your organization. As mentioned earlier, the AODA requires organizations to make their websites and web content conform to the WCAG 2.0 Level AA, except for the criteria related to live captions and audio descriptions. The AODA also has different deadlines for compliance depending on the size and type of the organization.
The WCAG 2.0 Level AA consists of 38 success criteria that cover four principles of web accessibility: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. These principles mean that web content must be:
- Perceivable: Web content must be presented in ways that users can perceive with their senses. For example, providing text alternatives for non-text content, captions for audio content, and contrast for visual content.
- Operable: Web content must be operable with various input methods, such as keyboard, mouse, or voice. For example, making all functionality available from a keyboard, providing enough time for users to complete tasks, and avoiding content that can cause seizures.
- Understandable: Web content must be clear, concise, and consistent. For example, using simple and plain language, providing labels and instructions for forms, and avoiding errors and ambiguities.
- Robust: Web content must be compatible with current and future technologies, such as browsers, devices, and assistive tools. For example, I used valid and standard code, provided names and roles for elements, and ensured content could be adapted to different settings.
To learn more about the WCAG 2.0 Level AA and its success criteria, you can visit the [Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) website], which provides detailed explanations, examples, techniques, and resources for web accessibility.
Web Accessibility: AODA Standards
The AODA standards cover the following aspects of web accessibility:
- Design: Your website should be user-friendly, featuring a clear layout, consistent navigation, multiple information sources, and compatibility with various devices and browsers.
- Content: Your website and web content should be easily understandable, using text alternatives for images, multimedia, captions, and headings to organize information effectively.
- Functionality: The functionality of your website and web content must be accessible and operable. For example, making all features and actions available from a keyboard, providing skip links and landmarks to facilitate navigation, and avoiding pop-ups and auto-play media.
- Feedback: The feedback on your website and web content must be accessible and helpful. For example, providing clear and timely feedback for user actions, errors, and status, providing labels and instructions for forms and inputs, and using consistent and meaningful icons and symbols.
Steps to Achieve AODA Compliance
Achieving AODA compliance may seem daunting, but it is a manageable and rewarding process. Here are some steps you can take to make your website AODA-compliant:
- Assess your current website: Evaluate your website’s current level of accessibility using tools like the WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool or the Axe Accessibility Checker. You can also hire an accessibility consultant or conduct user testing with people with disabilities.
- Create an accessibility plan: Develop a plan that outlines your goals, strategies, and timelines for improving your website’s accessibility. Make sure to involve all relevant stakeholders, such as web developers, content creators, and management.
- Implement the changes: Start making the necessary changes to your website based on the WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines. This may involve redesigning your website’s layout, rewriting your content, or adding new features.
- Monitor and maintain accessibility: Regularly check your website for accessibility issues and update it as needed.
- Document and report compliance: Keep records of your accessibility efforts and report your compliance to the Ontario government if required. This can help you demonstrate your commitment to accessibility and avoid penalties.
Real-Life Success Stories
Here are a few examples of organizations in Ontario that have successfully implemented web accessibility and seen the benefits:
- Ontario government: The government leading from the front has made its website and digital services accessible to people with disabilities, ensuring better service and fulfilling legal obligations.
- University of Toronto: The University of Toronto has improved its website’s accessibility by adopting the WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines. This has made the university’s online resources more usable for students, faculty, and staff with disabilities.
- Toronto Public Library: The Toronto Public Library has made its website and online catalog accessible to people with visual impairments by providing screen reader compatibility and alternative formats. This has allowed more people to access the library’s vast collection of books and media.
Making your website AODA-compliant ensures everyone can access and benefit from your online content. You can also enhance your organization’s reputation, reach, and performance.
AODA compliance is achievable with the right approach and resources. By assessing your website, creating a plan, implementing changes, monitoring accessibility, and documenting compliance, you can make your website accessible to all.
Remember, web accessibility is about more than just following rules; it’s about creating an inclusive and equitable online environment. By making your website AODA-compliant, you are contributing to a more accessible and inclusive Ontario for all.