A Comprehensive Guide to AODA Compliance in Ontario

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Published June, 01 2023

A Comprehensive Guide to AODA Compliance in Ontario

In Ontario, ensuring accessibility for individuals with disabilities is a significant priority. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was established to create an inclusive society and remove barriers faced by people with disabilities. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the key aspects of AODA compliance, particularly with website design. At CS Web Solutions, we understand the importance of AODA compliance and integrate all requirements and best practices into our custom web design process, helping you improve your online experience.

What is AODA?

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is a provincial legislation in Ontario, Canada, aimed at creating a more accessible and inclusive society for individuals with disabilities. It sets out accessibility standards that organizations must follow to ensure equal access to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, and more.

Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation in Ontario

The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) is a specific regulation under the AODA. It outlines the accessibility standards that organizations in Ontario need to comply with in various areas, including information and communications, employment, transportation, and the design of public spaces.

What Is The Accessibility For Ontarians With Disabilities Act?

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was sanctioned in 2005 to make Ontario fully accessible by 2025. It aims to remove barriers and provide equal opportunities for people with disabilities in the province.

Website Design Compliance Requirements under AODA

To achieve AODA compliance, organizations must ensure that their websites meet specific accessibility standards. This involves addressing factors such as navigation, content structure, color contrast, alternative text for images, keyboard accessibility, and more. Ensuring compliance at the design stage of a website is crucial for accessibility.

Who Needs To Comply With The AODA?

The AODA applies to all organizations in Ontario that provide goods, services, or facilities to the public or have one or more employees. This includes private-sector businesses, non-profit organizations, and public-sector entities.

Why Is The AODA Important?

The AODA is crucial because it promotes accessibility and inclusivity for people with disabilities. By complying with the AODA, organizations can ensure that their websites and digital content are accessible to a wider audience, providing equal opportunities for everyone to access information and engage with their services.

The AODA And Web Accessibility

Web accessibility is a significant component of AODA compliance. It refers to designing websites and digital content in a way that allows people with disabilities to perceive, navigate, and interact effectively. It ensures that individuals with visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive disabilities can access and use websites without barriers.

The AODA Accessibility Laws

The AODA mandates compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA. These guidelines are internationally recognized standards for web accessibility and provide specific criteria to make digital content accessible to people with disabilities.

Three levels of WCAG 

WCAG defines three levels of accessibility: Level A, Level AA, and Level AAA. Level AA compliance is the standard required under the AODA, and it covers a wide range of accessibility aspects, including color contrast, text alternatives for images, keyboard navigation, and more.

The 5 AODA Accessibility Standards

The AODA consists of five accessibility standards that organizations must adhere to:

1. Information and Communications

This standard ensures that the information and communications organizations provide are accessible to individuals with disabilities. It covers accessible formats, communication supports, accessible websites, and more.

2. Customer Service

The customer service standard focuses on providing accessible customer service to individuals with disabilities. It involves creating policies, training staff, and making reasonable accommodations.

3. Employment Standards

The employment standards aim to remove barriers in the recruitment, hiring, and employment of individuals with disabilities. It covers job applications, employee communication, and workplace accommodations.

4. Transportation

The transportation standard addresses accessibility requirements for transportation services, including public transit, taxis, and specialized transportation services for individuals with disabilities.

5. Design of Public Spaces

This standard focuses on making public spaces, such as parks, trails, and outdoor recreational facilities, accessible to everyone, including individuals with disabilities.

Must My Website be AODA Compliant?

Yes, your website should be AODA compliant. Not only does it ensure inclusivity and accessibility for individuals with disabilities, but it also helps organizations avoid legal consequences and potential reputational damage.

Update Old Content To Comply With AODA

If you have an existing website, updating your content to comply with AODA standards is important. This includes ensuring accessible formats, providing alternative text for images, improving keyboard navigation, and meeting other WCAG 2.0 Level AA requirements.

Public Sector Organizations and Businesses Must Be AODA Compliant In Ontario

Public sector organizations and businesses in Ontario are legally required to comply with AODA standards. Failure to comply can result in penalties, fines, and reputational damage.

Effects of Not Being AODA Compliant for Website Design

Failure to comply with AODA standards can have serious consequences. Apart from potential legal penalties, organizations risk excluding a significant portion of the population from accessing their goods and services. Non-compliance can also damage a company's reputation and hinder its growth.

Removing Barriers With AODA Compliance

AODA compliance goes beyond legal obligations; it is an opportunity to make your digital presence inclusive and accessible to a wider audience. By adopting accessible design practices, you can remove barriers and provide an optimal user experience for all individuals, regardless of their disabilities.

At CS Web Solutions, we specialize in creating AODA compliant websites that prioritize accessibility without compromising design and functionality. By leveraging our expertise, you can ensure your website meets the necessary accessibility standards, provides an inclusive user experience, and helps you reach a broader audience.

Remember, AODA compliance website is an ongoing commitment, and it's essential to stay updated with any changes or updates to the legislation to maintain accessibility on your website.

If you have any further questions or need assistance with AODA compliance for your website, please don't hesitate to contact our CS Web Solutions team.