Picture yourself in the following situation: You’re blind and you’re trying to send an e-transfer to a family member in need, but you can’t access your online banking because it’s not accessible to those who are visually impaired.
Cases like this put things in perspective for able-bodied people and remind them of how much they actually take for granted. They’re also a good reminder of why we need things like the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
My dad suffered from multiple sclerosis and ended up in a wheelchair, so I know how tough things can be when you have a disability.
I applaud the province of Ontario for passing this act. Its implementation is long overdue.
This act was passed way back in 2005, and its aims were to advance, apply and enforce standards of accessibility that relate to “goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises” by January 2025.
In a nutshell, the purpose of this act, when it comes to web sites, is to ensure that web site content is accessible for everyone.
With this in mind, I’m going to explain how this legislation will apply to web sites, why it’s in your best interests to comply, and how your site can attain AODA compliance.
AODA Compliance and How it Applies to Web Sites
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is very complicated and tremendously lengthy, so to respect both your time and mine, I’m going to do what I can to summarize.
This legislation applies to an extensive range of aspects that relate to accessibility, but for this blog, I’m just going to concentrate on how it applies to web sites.
The guidelines outlined in the act that apply to web sites are called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG.
Continue reading if you’re interested to learn more about the AODA, as it applies to web site accessibility.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Principles
These rules are built on four principles, which explain how content on the web can become accessible for everyone.
The components of user interface (UI) and information on web sites should be perceivable to all users.
Every user should be able to properly operate UI and navigation components, and a web site’s user interface must not require you to perform actions that some users might be incapable of doing.
All users should be able to comprehend the information on a web site and understand how to use its user interface.
Web content should be comprehensible for all users, compatible with assistive devices used by those with disabilities, and should continue to be accessible even while these technologies advance.
Each of these principles contain many guidelines for making sure these standards can be met, but there’s a massive amount of stuff in there, so if you want to know more, have a look at the WCAG quick reference guide.
How Compliance can Benefit Your Bottom Line
The rules discussed in the AODA are extremely in-depth, not least when it comes to how they apply to web content.
But very few businesses will be exempt from these requirements.
Unless you are self-employed and haven’t hired any employees, can show that you’re not in control of what’s on your web site, or prove that it is impossible for you to make these changes, non-compliance can result in severe financial penalties, including fines of $100,000 per day.
And as of January 2021, the province of Ontario will be starting to crack down on web content that fails to meet the WCAG requirements.
Nevertheless, if you’re a business owner, you should consider this an opportunity, not a burden.
Over 15 percent of people in Ontario are disabled, according to Accessibility Ontario.
If your business is ignoring the needs of such a huge chunk of Ontario’s population, it could have a substantial affect on your reputation and your bottom line, as well.
So, why not use this as an opportunity to help Ontarians with disabilities, many of whom would undoubtedly be honoured to do business with a company that pays attention to their needs?