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What is AODA and how does it impact your website?

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is a 2005 provincial law designed to improve access for Ontarians with disabilities, giving them the opportunity to fully participate in all aspects of daily life. Building on earlier laws, AODA sets high standards in order to achieve its goal of an accessible Ontario, and that includes access to information and communication technology.

AODA has two important compliance deadlines in 2021 that you should be aware of if your organization does business in the Province of Ontario. Read on to learn what those are and whether or not they apply to your organization.

Connect with an AODA Compliance Specialist

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5 Quick Facts About AODA Compliance

  • Regardless of size or industry, AODA applies to all organizations registered in Ontario, and sets forth standards for accessibility in 5 key areas: Customer Service, Employment, Information and Communications, Transportation, and Public Spaces.
  • AODA requires that public web content created after 2012—including, but not limited to, websites, applications, and digital documents—must meet the technical requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.
  • As of January 1, 2021, public sector organizations of any size and private organizations with 50 or more employees must ensure their public-facing web content meets WCAG 2.0 Level AA success criteria.
  • By June 30, 2021, all businesses and non-profits with 20 or more employees must file an accessibility compliance report with the Government of Ontario confirming compliance with AODA requirements.
  • Penalties for non-compliance are steep. Depending on the severity of the violation, failure to comply can result in fines up to $50,000 per day for individuals, and up to $100,000 per day for corporations.

WCAG: The Technical Standard for Compliance

AODA references The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 as the technical standard for web compliance. These internationally recognized and adopted standards offer detailed guidance and success criteria for removing the barriers that people with disabilities encounter on the web.

WCAG has four guiding principles which require web content be:

The 4 Principles of WCAG - Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust

  • Perceivable. Information can be perceived in multiple ways; for example non-text content has alternative text, or videos have captions or audio descriptions.
  • Operable. User interface and navigation functionality is available from a keyboard, as well as other input modalities like speech recognition and gestures.
  • Understandable. Content is readable and understandable to the broadest possible audience, and appears and operates in predictable ways.
  • Robust. Content is compatible with current and future tools, including browsers, assistive technologies, and other user agents.

And three levels of conformance:

  • Level A provides some basic accessibility features, but doesn’t meet the needs of many people.
  • Level AA addresses the most common barriers, and provides accessibility for most people. Most digital accessibility laws and standards require Level AA conformance.
  • Level AAA is the highest and most complex standard, and may not be achievable for all content.

Previously, AODA required conformance with WCAG 2.0 Level A, which consist of 25 success criterion. As of January 1, 2021, AODA requires Level AA compliance, which adds 13 additional success criterion for a total of 38.

Connect with an AODA Compliance Specialist

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free AODA compliance check of your site. No strings attached!