Guide to AODA compliance for your website

Are you a public Ontario company, or have more than 50 employees? Your website will have to follow these guidelines.

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The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) concerns the public sector and large organizations with over 50 employees.

The Ontario Government’s goal for the province is to become completely accessible by 2025.

What is an AODA Compliant Website?

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) guides web developers and technical coders to create a website that complies with this law. (link to the law). 

These standards were developed by committees with representation from different sectors, including people from the disability community. 

Beginning January 1, 2021, all public websites and web content posted after January 1, 2012, must meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA other than criteria 1.2.4 (live captions) and 1.2.5 (pre-recorded audio descriptions). 

WCAG 2.0 is an internationally accepted standard for web accessibility developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Take a look at their guide on conformance.

Not sure if your organization needs to comply? 

By law, you must make any new and significantly refreshed public website an AODA compliant website if you are:

  • a private or non-profit organization with 50+ employees; or
  • a public sector organization

How To Comply?

You can start by identifying all the requirements to make your website accessible. You can also use this tool to get an accessibility review of your current website. 

Websites must meet the following success criteria for each level to be compliant:

Level A Compliance Requirements

Guideline 1.1: Provide text alternatives for non-text content

1.1.1: Non-text content

Guideline 1.2: Provide alternatives for time-based media

Success Criterion 1.2.1 Audio-only and video-only (Prerecorded)
Success Criterion 1.2.2 Captions (Prerecorded)
Success Criterion 1.2.3 Audio Description or Media Alternative (Prerecorded)

Guideline 1.3: Adaptable content

Success Criterion 1.3.1 Info and relationships
Success Criterion 1.3.2 Meaningful sequence
Success Criterion 1.3.3 Sensory characteristics

Guideline 1.4: Distinguishable content

Success Criterion 1.4.1 Use of color
Success Criterion 1.4.2 Audio control

Guideline 2.1: Keyboard accessible

Success Criterion 2.1.1 Keyboard
Success Criterion 2.1.2 No keyboard trap

Guideline 2.2: Provide users enough time to read and use content

Success Criterion 2.2.1 Timing adjustable
Success Criterion 2.2.2 Pause, stop, hide

Guideline 2.3: Don’t design content in a way that is known to cause seizures

Success Criterion 2.3.1 Three flashes or below threshold

Guideline 2.4: Navigatable content

Success Criterion 2.4.1 Bypass blocks
Success Criterion 2.4.2 Page titled
Success Criterion 2.4.3 Focus order
Success Criterion 2.4.4 Link purpose (in context)

Guideline 3.1: Readable text content

Success Criterion 3.1.1 Language of page

Guideline 3.2: Predictable web pages

Success Criterion 3.2.1 On focus
Success Criterion 3.2.2 On input

Guideline 3.3: Input assistance

Success Criterion 3.3.1 Error identification
Success Criterion 3.3.2 Labels or instructions

Guideline 4.1: Compatible

Success Criterion 4.1.1 Parsing
Success Criterion 4.1.2 Name, role, value

Level AA Compliance Requirements

Websites that need to meet Level AA compliance requirements must meet all the Level A requirements as well as the ones below.

Guideline 1.4: Distinguishable content

Success Criterion 1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum)
Success Criterion 1.4.4 Resize text
Success Criterion 1.4.5 Images of text

Guideline 2.4: Navigable content

Success Criterion 2.4.5 Multiple ways
Success Criterion 2.4.6 Headings and labels
Success Criterion 2.4.7 Focus visible

Guideline 3.1: Readable text content

Success Criterion 3.1.2 Language of parts

Guideline 3.2: Predictable web pages

Success Criterion 3.2.4 Consistent identification

Guideline 3.3: Input assistance

Success Criterion 3.3.3 Error suggestion
Success Criterion 3.3.4 Error prevention (Legal, financial, data)

What Happens If You Cant Comply?

In case it is not possible to meet the WCAG 2.0 requirements. For instance, if you’ve used software and other tools that predate WCAG 2.0 to develop your website, you may be able to update or repair the products you used to support accessibility. If this is not possible, make sure you use software that supports accessibility the next time you refresh your site.

It may not be possible to post some content in a way that complies with WCAG 2.0. For example, it may be impossible to make some online maps and complex diagrams accessible to people with visual disabilities, you may still post the content, but you must provide it in an accessible format upon request.

However, failure to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act leads to maximum penalties:

  • A person and unincorporated organizations that are guilty of a major offense under this Act can be fined up to $50,000 dollars for each day the violation continues
  • A corporation that is guilty can be fined up to $100,000 per day
  • Directors and officers of a corporation with fiduciary responsibility who are guilty are liable to a fine of up to $50,000 a day

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AODA Compliant?

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