Summary: Organizations doing business in Ontario have begun receiving First Notices of Non-Compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). If you’ve received an AODA notice, we outline the scenarios and actions needed to get back on your path to AODA compliance and in good standing with the regulator.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) includes specific mandates for making websites, web content, and web-based applications accessible for people with disabilities. If the AODA applies to your organization, it requires you to complete and submit an accessibility compliance report confirming compliance or admitting non-compliance. The deadline to submit your report was June 30, 2021.
The Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility has now started issuing a First Notice of Non-Compliance to organizations that filed a “non-compliant” report. And the clock is ticking: the Ministry is giving these organizations two to three weeks to respond and file an updated compliance report.
If you received an AODA Notice of Non-Compliance, we’re here to help. There are two basic scenarios: 1) all issues have been corrected, or 2) not all issues have been corrected. Below are the steps to take in each scenario to get back into the government’s good standing on your path to AODA compliance.
And if you’re not sure about your AODA compliance, be sure to reach out to us for a review.
Scenario 1: You filed a “non-compliant” report, but you’ve corrected all of your accessibility issues
If your organization has corrected identified accessibility issues, confirming that none exist, you now need to file a “fully compliant” accessibility compliance report. To do so, follow these steps:
- Visit the Central Forms Repository at www.forms.ssb.gov.on.ca.
- In the Quick Search box, enter “009-00237E”.
- Download the form. (If using a mouse, you can right click the link and choose “Save link or Target as…”.)
- Open the form in Adobe Acrobat Reader 10 or later.
- Provide the required information.
- Select “Save and Submit.”
It’s important to note the Ministry does conduct annual verification audits to ensure the accuracy of your report.
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Scenario 2: You filed a “non-compliant” report and you have not yet corrected your accessibility issues
Draft a clear and direct summary of all of the accessibility work you’ve completed since the June 2021 filing deadline. This will give the Ministry a sense of your progress.
If you are working with a third-party digital accessibility solution provider, like eSSENTIAL Accessibility, indicate that partnership in this summary.
Include an accessibility remediation plan in the format provided by the Ministry. This plan will include each deliverable / milestone, the activity associated, and the due date. It’s important that stakeholders within your organization agree on the milestones and dates because the Ministry will track your compliance against the information you submit.
Note: It is possible the Ministry will ask you to expedite certain due dates, depending on the business case. Your plan should also include the date your organization will file a “fully compliant” report.
Based on your proposed remediation plan, in most cases the Ministry will respond with a Formal Compliance Plan. Remember, they will also conduct annual audits to verify ongoing compliance, so it’s critical you have an established program to monitor your accessibility status and correct ongoing issues as they are identified.
User communication and support: A must-have in all scenarios
Regardless of which scenario applies to your organization, it is critical to establish a way in which visitors can report any trouble they may experience while navigating your website. Even if you have confirmed your compliance, as content changes, you may inadvertently introduce new accessibility issues.
This two-way communication is not an accessibility solution, but it will provide user support in a “timely manner,” a requirement of the AODA. This support will ensure visitors can complete a transaction or access information that they may otherwise not be able to until that accessibility issue is corrected.
Establishing this two-way communication can also be documented to the Ministry when you’re requesting an extension. But even beyond AODA compliance, providing an avenue for user communication is an accessibility best practice, and a critical component of your public-facing accessibility statement.
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Your AODA compliance solution
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure of how to respond after receiving a First Notice of Non-Compliance, eSSENTIAL Accessibility is here to help. We have supported organizations on their path to AODA compliance for years, and our team works closely with the Ministry, serving on various accessibility-related government advisory boards.
We will support your filing requirements or any necessary responses, and our Accessibility-as-a-Service solution, powered by our eA Platform, will help ensure your website or web application becomes accessible and remains accessible, while capturing work completed and progress made over time.
If you need help with AODA compliance or with responding to a First Notice of Non-Compliance, contact us today.
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