Executive Overview: AODA Compliance
What is an AODA Compliance Website?
An AODA Compliant website allows people with disabilities, like sight and hearing impairment, to be able to use your website. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) enables people who have disabilities, such as sight and hearing impairment access your website. The AODA applies to companies and Organizations in Ontario, Canada.
Who Is This For?
You are required by law to make a new public website that is AODA compliant if:
- You are a company or non-profit organization that has 50 or more employees
- You are a public sector organization. A public sector organization is described as the broader public sector, municipalities and other organizations described under AODA. For example: hospitals, public transportation, school boards, colleges and universities.
Making Websites and More Accessible for All
The AODA is a law that governs how organizations provide services to people who have disabilities. The law governs how organizations provide services in a way so that a person is not discriminated against because of their disability.
How do I make an AODA Compliant Website?
There are a few ways to become compliant. For some, using artificial intelligence is the best option. For others, redevelopment with a manual audit and remediation is required.
Contact The Story to discuss your situation and the best approach for getting your website compliant.
What is an AODA Compliant Website?
AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) is a law that was implemented in 2005. AODA Compliant web development applies to organizations, both public and private in Ontario, Canada.
In the Ontario law for AODA, in the Communications Standards, under Section 14, there is the section “Accessible Websites and Web Content” which covers everything to do with websites. It should be noted that Ontario, like every other country that is focused on website accessibility, leverages WCAG which is a global organization that provides guidelines for accessibility with regards to websites.
Some people think just having meta tags (text alternatives for images) is all you need to make a website AODA compliant, but it’s not that simple. Here are some of the main tenets of a compliant website:
- Text can be resized (enlarged).
- Non-text elements (such as images) on the website have text alternatives.
- Video has captions.
- In order to understand the content on the website, colours, sounds, and size of objects do not need to be perceived.
- Web pages and links have self-explanatory titles.
- Website navigation and functions can work using a keyboard only.
- There can be no dead ends with keyboard navigation.
- There is nothing on the website that flashes rapidly (as this can cause epileptic episodes).
Note: One of the big areas that the AODA is web design and development. However, the act covers 5 areas, including information and communications; customer service; transportation; employment, and design of public spaces. For this article, we will be focusing only on web design and development.
AODA Web Success Criteria
Ontario’s accessibility laws state that an AODA compliant website must be new and significantly refreshed and meet the following success criteria :
Provide text alternatives for non-text content
- All non-text content that is presented to the user has a text alternative that serves the equivalent purpose.
Provide alternatives for time-based media
- Pre-recorded audio-only and prerecorded video-only content should be available to all users through alternatives, such as text.
- Enable people who are deaf or hard of hearing to watch synchronized media presentations. Captions provide the part of the content available via the audio track and dialogue, identify who is speaking, and include descriptions of meaningful sound effects.
- Provide people who are blind or visually impaired access to the visual information in a synchronized media presentation. This can be done in two ways:
- Provide an audio description of the video content, or
- Provide all of the information in text form.
Provide Adaptable content
- Information and relationships that are implied by visual or auditory formatting are perceivable by all.
- For example, headings, bullets, and tables need to be perceivable by those with visual impairment.
- For example, a bell, a word being emphasized by a speaker needs to be perceivable by someone with a hearing impairment.
- Ensure that assistive technology can present the content in the order or sequence that the content is supposed to be presented in.
- All users need to be able to access instructions without the need for perceiving shape, shape, location, or orientation.
- Ensure that any information that is conveyed by colour differences can be understood by those with visual impairments.
- Any audio that plays automatically for more than 3 seconds, must have a mechanism available to pause or stop the audio, and it must contain an independent volume control.
- All navigation and operation of the website can be done with a keyboard. There can be no requirement for specific timings for individual keystrokes.
- Content should not “trap” keyboard focus within subsections of content on a Web page. This is a common problem when multiple formats are combined within a page and rendered using plug-ins or embedded applications.
Provide users enough time to read and use content
- Timing adjustable: users with disabilities are given adequate time to interact with Web content whenever possible. For example, for people with vision disabilities, this includes more time to read content or fill out online forms.
- Pause, stop, hide: The website must avoid distracting users during their interaction with a Web page, including moving, blinking, and scrolling.
Don’t design content in a way that is known to cause seizures
- Allow users to access the full content of a site without inducing seizures due to photosensitivity. Anything that flashed more than three times in any one second period would be considered a violation.
- Bypass Blocks: Provide a mechanism to bypass blocks of content that are repeated on multiple Web pages.
- Web pages must have titles that describe the purpose or topic of the page content.
- When users navigate sequentially through your web page’s content, they encounter ordered information that is consistent with the meaning of the content. This can be done using a keyboard.
- Help users understand what the purpose of each link is, so they can decide whether they want to click on the link.
Readable text content
- The language of the page must be able to be determined programmatically. For example, this helps visual browsers to display properly.
Predictable web pages
- When any component receives focus, it does not initiate a change of context. This helps to ensure that the functionality of the website is predictable as the user browses the page.
- Changing the setting of any user interface component does not automatically cause a change of context unless the user has been advised of the behavior before using the component.
- Ensure that if an error occurs, the user knows it and they can understand what is wrong.
- When a user is required to provide input, labels or instructions are provides to ensure the user knows what input is required.
- Assistive technologies must be able to properly interpret and parse the web page content.
- Assistive Technologies must be able to gather information about, activate (or set) and keep up to date on the status of user interface controls in the content.
You Don’t Have to Change These Things
You don’t have to change everything. Any content posted before 2012 is exempt, as is any internal-only website (possibly known as a company portal or intranet).
AM I LEGALLY REQUIRED TO HAVE AN AODA COMPLIANT WEBSITE?
By the end of 2020, Ontario companies and organizations (companies with 50+ employees and government organizations and related agencies) are supposed to be AODA compliant, meeting almost all of the WCAG 2.0 AA Standards.
How Do I Know if My Website is AODA Compliant?
If you don’t know if your website is AODA compliant. It’s almost a sure thing that it isn’t. If you haven’t had anyone intentionally design, develop, test, and remediate your website for AODA compliance, your website is not compliant.
If you want to test it to see if it’s compliant, test it with Achecker. Please note that Achecker will likely catch a majority of the issues but only a manual audit will catch all of the issues.
Options for Getting AODA Compliant
There are three options for getting your website AODA compliant.
Do it Yourself
You can make your website compliant yourself. Some resources and tools can help you, however, once you start reading this you are likely to want to get someone else to help you because it’s a lot of work.
Understanding the Requirements
You will need to understand what the requirements are. Both the AODA act and the WCAG checklist will provide you with an in-depth understanding of what’s required.
No one tool can tell you whether you are compliant or not. Most AODA audits will be done using multiple testing tools and a manual audit.
Screen Reader Testing
- How to evaluate accessibility with NVDA, which is a free screen reader for Windows computers.
General Accessibility Testing Software
Colour Contrast Website Checker
- Browser zoom – ensure you can zoom the text to 200% without loss of page formatting.
- Keyboard compatibility – ensure that your website can be navigated and operated by a keyboard only, without any keyboard traps.
- If you have any PDFs you should check to see if they are accessible.
- If you have videos, you can upload them to YouTube and have YouTube create captions for you.
Web Accessibility AI Software
There are a few Artificial Intelligence tools available that automatically scan, analyze and update your website. You need to know that AI software will get your website mostly compliant (probably 70-80%) with no effort. No AI tool can get everything on your site fully compliant.
The AI Accessibility software should provide you with a report for what else needs to be done to get your website AODA compliant. Please note that AI won’t catch everything and if you want to be 100% compliant, you will still need a manual audit.
Audit and Remediation Outsourcing
An audit and remediation company can get manage the process for you. If you are in a bank, insurance company large government organization, or other high profile company, you should probably consider getting your website AODA certified compliant.
GET AODA COMPLIANT
We can help you understand your options and provide you with the solution that best meets your website and organizational needs.