Regulations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) are broken down into five groups of standards:
- Customer Service
- Information and Communications
- Design of Public Spaces
Although all five have rules that organizations should keep in mind when building websites and web content, most regulations about digital accessibility are in the Information and Communications Standards.
The two most important digital accessibility requirements in the Information and Communication Standards relate to 1) accessible formats and communication supports and 2) websites and web content.
Accessible Formats and Communication Supports
Since January 1, 2017, all organizations—both public-sector and private-sector, regardless of size—are required on request to provide documents in accessible formats, and to provide communication supports for individuals with disabilities.
Organizations must also take steps to notify the public of the availability of accessible formats and communication supports.
Accessible formats include, but are not limited to:
- Microsoft Word
- Large print
- Accessible audio formats
- Text transcripts of visual and audio information
Communication supports include, but are not limited to:
- Reading the written information aloud to the person directly
- Exchanging hand-written notes
- Providing a note taker or communication assistant
- Captioning or audio description
- Assistive listening systems
- Augmentative and alternative communication methods and strategies, such as the use of letter, word or picture boards, and devices that speak out
- Sign language interpretation and intervenor services
- Repeating, clarifying or restating information
Websites and Web Content
AODA also requires public-sector organizations and private-sector organizations with 50+ employees to make their websites and web content, including mobile apps, accessible.
AODA expressly adopts the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 framework. Since January 1, 2014, new websites and web content must comply with WCAG 2.0 Level A, and will be required to comply with WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards by January 1, 2021.
There are, however, a few exceptions to the WCAG 2.0 success criteria permitted under AODA:
- Historical web content published before January 1, 2012
- Web content controlled by a third party
- Intranet sites
- Captions on live video
- Descriptive audio on both live and pre-recorded video
- Unconvertible information (e.g., complex weather maps)
- Situations where compliance is not practicable, taking into account the availability of commercial software and tools.
Outside of these limited exceptions, however, organizations should already be compliant with WCAG 2.0 Level A and should be taking steps to comply with the Level AA success criteria by January 1, 2021.
Want to know more about AODA and its requirements?
Download our Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act whitepaper to learn more!