What is AODA Compliance? How Will it Impact My Website?

The goal of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is remove barriers for activities and opportunities for disabled individuals by 2025, including the use of the Internet. The deadline for businesses in the private sector to be compliant was January 1, 2012.

To find out if you have to do to comply with Ontario’s accessibility law visit the government’s AODA Compliance Wizard.

Having a website that is compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is mandatory for most businesses in Ontario and non-compliance can result in fines of $50,000 per day for Directors and Officers and fines of up to $100,000 per day for the corporation. AODA compliance can also help you better serve Ontarians with a disability and reflects positively on your business.

How Does AODA Affect Your Website?

The Web Content and Accessibility Guideline (or WCAG) outlines the ways in which your website must comply and better serve Ontarians with disabilities. Here is a brief summary:

  • Text Alternatives
    Provide your website visitors with text alternatives for non-text content. Options can include larger print, symbols, simpler language, braille or audio descriptions.
  • Time-based Media
    Providing alternatives for time-based media such as providing audio-only versions of video content, and text versions of audio content.
  • Adaptable
    Making your content adaptable enables it to be presented in different ways, such as with a simpler layout, while still providing the same information and structure.
  • Distinguishable
    Provide a good colour contrast between your text and background, a text size of at least 14 points  and make sureyour links and controls highly visible when they receive keyboard or mouse focus.
  • Keyboard Accessible
    Make sure your website is entirely keyboard accessible to allow users to navigate through your website without using a mouse.
  • Provide Enough Time
    Having content that is set to rotate or change automatically after a certain period of time can be problematic to those with dyslexia or other reading disabilities. Give users the ability to turn off or pause this feature..
  • Do Not Cause Seizures
    Avoiding design or functionality elements that project in any way that is known to cause seizures such as rapidly flashing images/objects.
  • Navigable
    An intuitively structured website will involve strategic decisions designed to help your users navigate, find content, and determine where they are on your site. Making your links visually distinct, allowing users to navigate to different sections of a web page and limiting the number of links per page are good ways to follow this guideline.
  • Readable
    Content that is readable and understandable is not just a way of facilitating those with disabilities; it ensures that anyone who visits your site can comprehend your product, service, or message. This relates to making sure your text is distinguishable: avoid chunks of italicized text, avoid similarly coloured background and text, using justifications only when necessary, etc. Other aspects of this section include using clear and simple language, avoiding foreign or unusual words, and providing sign language versions of basic information on your site, such as how to contact the Webmaster.
  • Predictable
    Having a consistent style provides a certain amount of cohesion to your site and overall design. This guideline requires that your web pages operate and appear in predictable ways. This includes keeping your navigation in a consistent location and notifying your users if clicking on links will open new windows or direct them away from their current location on the site.
  • Input Assistance
    A website that requests its users to fill out a form and then rejecting the form without providing any explanation is a very frustrating experience from a usability perspective. This guideline involves helping users avoid and correct mistakes. If a form was rejected because the user did not fill out a mandatory field, for example, provide a notice that an error was identified and explain to the user how to correct this error. Make sure any instructions on your site are provided in a clear and concise way. Also make sure that you have a ‘Help’ link on each page where a user inputs their information.
  • Compatibility
    Ensure that your website is highly compatible with various gadgets, including assistive technology gadgets so that to make nt can be captured and understood with the use of screen readers and other assistive technology softwares and tools.