New rules have come into effect regarding the accessibility of websites and people with disabilities. The rules vary depending on what kind of business you have, but basically we have to think about making our websites accessible for everyone. You are exempt from these new standards, set by AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) if you are self-employed and do not have any employees. But it’s probably good PR to try to comply anyway.
If you are a larger company, you may have to start thinking about how you’ll meet these new standards for your business – and not just the website. The final deadline is January 1, 2021, but in the meantime new content must meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A. And also your business must be taking certain steps now to ensure you’ll be fully compliant by 2021. For example, as of the beginning of 2016, you’re supposed to make new or redeveloped public spaces accessible – service counters, fixed waiting lines, recreational trails and beach access routes. See a more detailed outline of the rules for public sector organizations here.
Here’s a summary of the requirements:
Websites that meet AODA standards will:
- provide alternative text for images and other non-text content
- provide alternatives for video content, such as audio content
- provide alternative for audio content, such as text versions of audio
- make text, including hyperlinked text, easy to see
- make websites completely accessible by keyboard
- allow viewers the option to turn off or control slide shows, etc.
- make the navigation straightforward
- use clear and concise language
- make sure website forms are user-friendly; readers should be offered guidance, if needed, with every step while filling out a form
AODA offers a quick test that you can use to see what sort of changes you’ll have to make to your site to be compliant. Visit this page to complete it: https://www.appacats.mcss.gov.on.ca/eadvisor/