If you have a company that operates out of Ontario, it is mandatory to comply with AODA: the Accessibility For Ontarians with Disability Act. This law was passed to ensure that people with disabilities face no barriers with regards to accessing activities and opportunities. And this law covers websites. As more reliance is placed on the world wide web to source information, AODA recognises that disabled people should be able to access information as easily as others. The AODA Website Content and Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) explains how companies can achieve a website that is accessible to all, regardless of any physical disability they may have.
WCAG outlines four main principles of creating an accessible website:
Interestingly these are sound principles and should apply to every single website. So before you start to fret about the website alterations you need to implement to comply with AODA, appreciate that a website which is more accessible and user-friendly for those with a disability, will also be more accessible and user-friendly to all. And by implementing any necessary changes, you will be expanding the number of people who can view and interact with your website.
AODA has been mandatory since 1 January 2012 for private companies and failure to comply can result in hefty fines – upto $100,000 per day for corporations! So without further ado, let’s look at the main areas of WCAG:
The above points will make your website more accessible to all. By using simple language, clear layout and intuitive navigation, all users will find browsing your website a pleasant experience. It’s easy to be seduced by the idea of having a website stuffed full of great content, with rotating banners and flashing images, and layers of pages – but ultimately this makes the website complicated for all but the creator.
Aim for a clear, concise and user-friendly web design and you will be well on your way to complying with AODA. And then fine tuning is all that you will need to ensure your website is fully compliant. And remember, compliance with AODA is not optional – it is already a mandatory requirement.