aoda compliance

A Guide to Make an AODA Compliance Website

  • By Aditya Bikkani
  • 01-07-2024
  • Technology

The purpose of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is to make Canada a more inclusive society, particularly by improving the accessibility of different services and information for people who have disabilities. This includes making sure everyone can access websites and other digital content without any barriers. It's not only a suggested good method but also legally required in many countries to provide this kind of access. The AODA has set certain rules for online access that businesses and organizations need to follow. In this article, we will give users a brief overview of how to make their website conform to AODA requirements.

What is AODA Compliance?

The AODA is a law of the province that makes it necessary for organizations in Ontario to recognize and eliminate barriers in accessibility for people with disabilities. All organizations based in Ontario having employees must comply, including private and non-profit sectors. The AODA includes physical, vision, and auditory, as well as intellectual and mental health disabilities.

Here are the five standards of AODA that organizations must comply with:

  1. Customer Service Standard: To provide accessible customer service to people with disabilities
  2. Information and Communication Standard: The content and communication must be accessible to all people, even those with disabilities.
  3. Employment Standard: Possess policies and procedures to aid in employing people with disabilities.
  4. Transportation Standard : Public transport companies should ensure that their services are available to people who have disabilities.
  5. Design of Public Areas Standard: Make sure public spaces are planned in a way that lets people with disabilities easily use them.
    With the help of these standards, organizations can make Ontario a society that is accessible by 2025. In this place, people with disabilities will be able to get to goods, services, jobs and public spaces without any difficulty.

Advantages of AODA

There are many reasons to make your website AODA-compliant beyond the legal obligation. Here are a few key benefits:

Enhanced Revenue:

AODA compliance aids organizations in increasing their sales and revenue. When websites are made accessible, it appeal to a wider audience, such as people with disabilities. This boosts the likelihood of more purchases from these potential customers, resulting in growth on the financial side for companies. Moreover, making digital spaces accessible benefits both parties involved: organizations see an increase in their customer base, while people with disabilities and their families have easier access to needed products or services, creating overall contentment among clientele groups.

Enhanced Brand Image:

Showing support for accessibility and social responsibility can make a brand look better, helping to spread inclusivity and social duty. This might increase customer faithfulness and trust, making an organization's image more ethical, socially responsible and human rights-focused.

Improved SEO:

Accessibility attributes in search engine optimization (SEO) enhance the user experience by providing clear and descriptive language, meeting accessibility requirements, and offering alternatives to visual content. This benefits all customers, not just those with disabilities, making it easier to understand in situations like bright sunlight or low bandwidth.

Reduced Legal Risk:

By proactively making your website AODA-compliant, you minimize the risk of legal challenges.

Increasing Workplace Productivity:

Removing barriers for employees with disabilities allows them to contribute their best efforts, which elevates overall productivity and keeps valuable skills within the workforce.

Future-proofing for An Aging Population:

With the ongoing growth in elderly and disabled individuals, organizations that follow AODA can better handle rising requirements for accessibility while also fulfilling legal duties. Bringing in fresh solutions might boost user experiences across the board.

Critical Requirements for AODA Compliance

The AODA says that every web content has to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A and AA standards, except when it comes to live captioning and audio description. WCAG is made by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which means it's the worldwide standard for making websites accessible. The latest WCAG version, 2.2, covers all needs in both WCAGs 2.0 and 2.1 versions." WCAG 2.2 is the latest version of WCAG, but to follow AODA, one does not require WCAG 2.2 conformance. For those organizations aiming to make their web content accessible for many years ahead, they can choose to comply with this newest standard, as it would be a way of "future-proofing" efforts in accessibility. The four pillars on which WCAG stands are:

  • Perceivable: Information and user interface components must be presented in ways that people with various types of senses can understand.
  • Operable: Website functions and features should be operable using a keyboard for effective navigation.
  • Understandable: Language should be clear, concise, and easy to understand, avoiding complex jargon.
  • Robust: It states that content should be compatible with current and future assistive technologies, employing valid code and avoiding technologies that might not be accessible by all people.

Key Requirements

While the specific requirements vary across the five AODA standards, some key requirements that organizations should be aware of include:

Creating Accessibility Policies and Plans:

Companies need to make multi-year accessibility plans that explain how they will stop and eliminate barriers. They also have to create policies about achieving accessibility.

Accessible Formats and Communication Support:

Information and communications, upon request, must be made available in accessible formats or with communication support for persons with disabilities. This includes providing websites in text-based forms, offering sign language interpretation services, and providing reading materials in braille.

Accessibility in All Stages of Employment:

Organizations need to make sure that accessibility is provided from the beginning of the employment process, with stages such as recruitment and onboarding, accommodation phase, and the career development period for employees up until the activities related to retention.

Lastly, all staff, third parties and policy decision-makers must be trained on the AODA and the Human Rights Code requirements for people with disabilities.

Guidelines for Achieving AODA Compliance

WCAG has a group of success criteria that are divided into three levels: A, AA and AAA. For AODA compliance, the websites need to meet WCAG 2.0 at Level AA.

Let's see some important guidelines from WCAG:

  • Alt Text for Images: Each picture on your website requires a descriptive "alt text" attribute. This text must clarify the picture's content and its intended use for users who are unable to view it.
  • Keyboard Navigation: All functions on the website should be reachable and usable with a keyboard. This includes menus, forms, buttons, etc.
  • Color Contrast: The ratio of contrast between text and background colors must be enough for people with visual impairments to read easily. WCAG has given exact ratios of contrast for various kinds of content.
  • Headings and Structure: Arrange your content with appropriate heading tags (H1, H2, etc.) for better structure. It assists screen readers in comprehending the order of data on a page.
  • Captions and Transcripts: For pre-recorded audio content, captions can be added, while for videos, transcripts are included. This makes information accessible to people who are deaf or have difficulty hearing.

Also, for making sure AODA is followed correctly: Give the responsibility of managing and carrying out the program to resources specifically set aside. Do a complete check-up on accessibility to find out barriers in customer service, job methods and public areas. Make a many-year plan on accessibility according to what you discover in the audit, so as to take away identified barriers and reach AODA compliance. Put in place and make sure of policies for AODA compliance that control the methods and steps connected to it. Give continuous training to workers, volunteers and third parties for understanding and using AODA practices.

Wrapping up

Compliance to AODA means making sure that persons with disabilities can get information and services in an equal manner. In Ontario, organizations have to follow five standards: Customer Service, Information and Communications, Employment (Human Resources), Transportation and the design of Public Spaces (Built Environment). A website which follows the rules of AODA will be open for a large range of people to use. This can result in more possibilities for sales or income generation. Compliance lessens the possibility of legal disputes and caters to employees who have disabilities, enhancing productivity and retention of proficient workers. Making websites comply with accessibility guidelines allows them to be accessible by everyone, which has a beneficial effect on society.

Recent blog

Get Listed