A Comprehensive Guide To AODA Compliance In Ontario

Understanding the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation in Ontario

AODA is a set of regulations created by the Ontario government to ensure everyone has equal access to information online to ensure digital accessibility. If you are not compliant with the AODA compliance requirements and accessibility policies, you could face a severe fine.

What Is The Accessibility For Ontarians With Disabilities Act?

The Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act (AODA) was established in 2005. Its goal was to improve website accessibility using digital compliance to make a more accessible Ontario. The laws were established by the government for Ontario’s public and private entities to ensure that all Ontarians are able to equally access resources and information. This includes online resources, websites and digital applications.

AODA Compliance

All organizations in Ontario need to follow clear requirements and standards in order to remain AODA compliant in their employment practices and in the way they share information. The new accessibility laws are an improvement on the existing Ontarians With Disabilities Act of 2001.

Who Needs To Comply With The AODA?

Any public sector organization, business, or non-profit that has 50 employees or more needs to operate in line with this accessibility law. The AODA system was created by various committees with representation from different sectors. This includes representation from the disability community.

Why Is The AODA Important?

Having clear and consistent accessibility laws is important in Ontario. There are approximately 6.2 million people in Canada living with a disability that can make it difficult to access daily resources. Because of this, the goal of Ontario’s Disabilities Act (AODA) requirements is to provide all residents with equal accessibility across all private and public sector organizations by the year 2025.

The AODA And Web Accessibility

These days, looking at online resources is the most popular way to find information. The internet is the first place people go when they need to find an answer to a question.

The AODA Accessibility Laws

The Ontario government implemented AODA for all relevant organizations in the private and non-profit sector to follow.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

To make Ontario accessible to everyone, all websites need to follow the latest version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These are the necessary general requirements and guidelines to create a web page that is widely accessible by anyone with disabilities.

Three levels of WCAG accessibility

  1. Level A: basic web accessibility features
  2. Level AA: removes the most common barriers for disabled users
  3. Level AAA: the highest level of web accessibility

The 5 AODA Accessibility Standards

Organizations are required to meet all five standards of AODA regulations that fall under the following categories. Each category helps to remove barriers around different web accessibility issues and provides website owners with a way to assess the experience their website offers the public. It is important to provide contact information and a business email address for people with accessibility requirements to report potential issues they encounter on your website.

Information and Communications

Any type of content and information that your site communicates to the public needs to be easily accessible for people with disabilities. This includes elements on your site like videos, PDFs, and apps.

  • audio descriptions and text alternatives
  • written transcriptions of audio content
  • and enlarged text sizes

Customer Service

Any business that provides goods or services needs to provide a customer experience that remains AODA compliant. The Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act requires all eCommerce websites to be fully accessible, understandable, and easy to navigate by any customer.

Employment Standards

Websites need to comply with the relevant AODA regulations. All employees of the business need to understand these changes. It’s important that any employees of an organization with a new website are notified about the current AODA compliance measures.

Transportation

All transportation service providers need to ensure all technical features and equipment on their transport routes offer complete accessibility for Ontarians.

Design Of Public Spaces

The public spaces standard ensures that no elements of any built environment create a barrier for people with disabilities. This includes spaces like recreational trails, playground picnic areas, parking, and outdoor paths of travel.

Must My Website be AODA Compliant?

All organizations in Ontario need to follow the mandatory AODA regulations if their website falls under the type and size requirements. If your website content does not meet the necessary compliance regulations, you may face up to a legal fine of up to $100,000 for each day of non-compliance.

Update Old Content To Comply With AODA

Any website content published after January 1st, 2012 must meet the WCAG Level A compliance standards. So if you have any old web content, you need to revise it to make sure it’s up to date with current AODA regulations.

Public Sector Organizations and Businesses In Ontario Must Be AODA Compliant

All Ontario public sector organizations need to comply with AODA law. Any businesses that provide good services or facilities to the public need to meet AODA law if they have at least 50 employees, and have at least one of these employees based in the Canadian province of Ontario.

Removing Barriers With AODA Compliance

AODA compliance is a vital solution to provide equal accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities. If all organizations comply (which they need to), a whole new world of online resources open up to those with disabilities who may not have been able to access these resources in the past.

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