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What is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)?

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, also known as AODA, is an Ontario law. Passed in 2005, the AODA is based off the 2001 Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The law mandates a set of standards that public, private, and non-profit organizations must follow to become more accessible to people with disabilities. AODA’s goal is to create a barrier-free Ontario by 2025.

What are the AODA website requirements?

AODA website compliance requires that your public website (not intranet) and its content meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A and AA (excluding criteria 1.2.4 and 1.2.5). WCAG is the internationally accepted standard for web accessibility, as developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). To comply with WCAG 2.0, you must have no content that violates the Success Criteria. These requirements and subsequent success criterion include:

Level A

Guideline 1.1: Provide text alternatives for non-text content

  • 1.1 Non-text content

Guideline 1.2: Provide alternatives for time-based media

  • 2.1 Audio only and video only (Prerecorded)
  • 2.2 Captions (Prerecorded)
  • 2.3 Audio Description or Media Alternative (Prerecorded)

Guideline 1.3 Adaptable Content

  • 3.1 Info and relationships
  • 3.2 Meaningful sequence
  • 3.3 Sensory characteristics

Guideline 1.4 Distinguishable Content

  • 4.1 Use of color
  • 4.2 Audio control

Guideline 2.1 Keyboard accessible

  • 1.1 Keyboard
  • 1.2 No Keyboard trap

Guideline 2.2 Provide users enough time to read and use content

  • 2.1 Timing adjustable
  • 2.2 Pause, stop, hide

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

  • 3.1 Three flashes or below threshold

Guideline 2.4 Navigable content

  • 4.1 Bypass blocks
  • 4.2 Page titled
  • 4.3 Focus order
  • 4.4 Link purpose (in context)

Guideline 3.1 Readable text content

  • 1.1 Language of page

Guideline 3.2 Predictable web pages

  • 2.1 On focus
  • 2.2 On input

Guideline 3.3 Input assistance

  • 3.1 Error identification
  • 3.2 Labels or instructions

Guideline 4.1 Compatible

  • 1.1 Parsing
  • 1.2 Name, role, value

Level AA

Guideline 1.4 Distinguishable content

  • 4.3 Contrast (Minimum)
  • 4.4 Resize text
  • 4.5 Images of text

Guideline 2.4 Navigable content

  • 4.5 Multiple ways
  • 4.6 Headings and labels
  • 4.7 Focus visible

Guideline 3.1 Readable text content

  • 1.2 Language of parts

Guidelines 3.2 Predictable web pages

  • 2.4 Consistent identification

Guideline 3.3 Input assistance

  • 3.3 Error suggestion
  • 3.4 Error prevention (Legal, financial, data)

Who must comply?

According to the law, all new and significantly refreshed public websites must be accessible if:

  • You are a private or non-profit organization with more than 50 employees

OR

  • You are a public-sector organization

A new website is a site that has a new web address or a significantly new look and feel. Adding a new page or link to your site is not considered new.

A significantly refreshed website is a website that keeps the same web address but makes changes that present a new look and feel, new navigation, or a major update or change to the content of the website.

When is the next deadline?

As of January 1, 2021: All public websites and content posted after January 1, 2012 must meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA.

There are fines for non-compliance. For individuals, the penalty is up to $50,000 per day on which the violation occurs, and for corporations it is up to $100,000 for each day in violation until the matter is resolved.

Why is it important to act now?

The number of Canadians who identify as having a disability is growing. In fact, 22% of Canadians aged 15 years and older have at least one disability that limits their everyday activities — that’s up from a reported 13% in 2012.

Despite the growing prevalence of online tools, many websites have overlooked the needs of users with disabilities, resulting in lost business and frustrated users. Rather than ignore the diverse needs of users, we need to educate ourselves about digital accessibility. In Canada, we still have a long way to go, but we also have the opportunity to become leaders in inclusive technological innovation. It’s important to remember that accessibility is a process, not a project.

Is your website accessible?

Accessibility issues create barriers on your website for all users, not just those with disabilities. Give your site an instant accessibility checkup with just one click. 

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What are the benefits of an accessible website?

From improved usability to better SEO, there are many benefits to an accessible website.

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Learn more about how to get started with accessibility

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