Accessibility for all individuals is just as prevalent of an issue when it comes to producing online content as it is in the real world. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) mandates that all businesses need to comply with certain standards to make their website content more inclusive and accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities. AODA-compliant websites should include high-quality close captioned videos for the deaf and hearing impaired as well as plug-ins that are compatible with assistive technologies, screen readers, and voice search accessibility for visitors with varying abilities and needs.
AODA guidelines for web content accessibility are under continuous scrutiny to ensure that they’re always up-to-date and compatible with the latest assistive technologies used by people with disabilities. The objective is to make the Internet an accessible and inclusive place for all, regardless of the website or device in question.
What Is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)?
According to the AODA website, the purpose of the act is twofold. First, it has to do with recognizing the history of discrimination against persons with disabilities in Ontario and benefitting all Ontarians. It accomplishes this by “developing, implementing, and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures, and premises on or before January 1, 2025”.
In other words, the objective of this initiative is to level the playing field and make for a more inclusive and accessible online and offline experience for people living with disabilities.
Second, the act works by “providing for the involvement of persons with disabilities, of the Government of Ontario and of representatives of industries and of various sectors of the economy in the development of the accessibility standards”. The act defines “accessibility standards” as legal regulations that must be adhered to under section 6 that remove societal physical and intangible barriers (e.g., lack of access to public buildings and internalized prejudices or refusing service to persons with disabilities) that prevent individuals with disabilities from fully participating in society as they see fit.
Accommodations must be made to remove and overcome certain obstacles that people living with disabilities face on a daily basis. In the real world, these typically include things like building wheelchair ramps, accessible bathrooms, training employees on proper and effective communication methods, and updating policies to include accessibility standards.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and Standards
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is an international initiative that consists of a series of technical documents. These documents are developed by the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AGWG). The AGWG is associated with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
These entities work together to develop universal web content accessibility standards that can and should be implemented by web developers and organizations around the globe. The WCAG guidelines are classified under four basic principles for online accessibility:
- Information presented in web content along with all components of user interface must be fully perceivable and accessible for all users. Web content must be presented in such a way that it’s completely perceivable to all or most of the senses to accommodate the sensory requirements of every user, regardless of their disability.
- Interface components must be designed in such a way that all users can operate them, omitting components that are inoperable for users living with certain disabilities.
- The operation of the user interface and operation must be comprehensible and easy to follow for users of all mental and physical capabilities. The content should be presented in such a way that makes it easy to understand and makes the operation of the user interface universally accessible.
- This means that the web content is presented in such a way that makes it compatible to be experienced and absorbed using a wide range of assistive technologies that accommodate a large variety of users.
These guidelines are in place in an effort to bring to light online accessibility issues facing individuals living with various disabilities. Web developers can and should use the four key aforementioned principles as a guide in terms of how to make their websites and web content in general more accessible to avoid alienating people living with disabilities.
What Does AODA Web Accessibility Compliance Require?
Above all, successful and effective AODA compliance requirements for web accessibility include a thorough understanding of and adherence to the abovementioned principles as well as a commitment to implementing them across all website and online content.
The WAI has provided a quick and easy-to-follow guide that web developers and digital marketers can use as a basis to make their content more universally accessible and adaptable for people living with a wide variety of disabilities.
- The Guidelines. Each principle has its own unique set of stipulations that should be adaptable according to the specific needs and abilities of individual users. A total of 12 guidelines can be found here. Ultimately, the objective is to give all users easy access to web content and ensure that the content and information can be reformatted in different forms according to each user’s unique cognitive, sensory, and physical capabilities.
- Success criteria. Success criteria are certain checkpoints that must be completed in order to conform to the accessibility standards that are outlined by WAI. To ensure success criteria, aka requirements, are being met, voluntary test groups that include disability experts and people living with disabilities should be recruited to test out the accessibility values of the content formatting on various levels.
- Sufficient techniques, advisory techniques, and failures. Certain web content accessibility techniques should be administered to ensure the accuracy, safety, and efficacy of these methods. These techniques are under continuous evaluation and must be updated on a regular basis. Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria outlines the testing techniques that are typically used.
What’s the Importance of AODA Compliance for Your Website?
Adhering to AODA compliance requirements not only makes your website more accessible for individuals living with various cognitive, perceptive, and physical disabilities. From a sales and customer service standpoint, it also widens your margins and helps you reach to a much more expansive target audience or demographic that’s often unjustifiably ignored.
Numero Uno Web Solutions Can Make Your Website AODA Compliant
As one of the leading digital marketing and SEO firms in North America, Numero Uno Web Solutions has helped countless SMBs across the continent build and maintain successful web presences. Our team of experienced web developers and content creators will implement technical and natural (textual and visual) elements that are aimed at making your website as accessible as possible for all users. Contact us today to learn more!