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The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, or AODA, is a law that focuses on the development of accessibility standards for all Ontarians. The accessibility standards are designed to identify, remove, and prevent barriers for the 1.9 million people in Ontario with disabilities. Both private and public sectors within Ontario are required to adhere to these standards.

The AODA focuses on many areas with which Ontario businesses must comply. The Act includes requirements for website accessibility.  Essential principles governing these requirements include:

  • Perceivability – users must be able to perceive the information being presented;
  • Operability – users must be able to operate the interface – no functionality that cannot be accessed or interacted with;
  • Understandability – users must be able to understand the information – the content or operation within the site cannot be beyond understanding; and
  • Robustness – users must be able to access content despite advancing technologies (i.e., the content must remain accessible).

As a website development partner to our clients, we are here to help you through the details (they are exhaustive!).  What follows is a summary of typical things that need to be evaluated and addressed:

  • Text Alternatives
    You are expected to provide text alternatives for non-text content (e.g., images, videos).
  • Time-based Media
    You are expected to provide alternatives for time-based media (e.g., video) to ensure that anyone who wants to access all of the information on your site has the means to do so.
  • Adaptable
    You are expected to make content adaptable so that it may be presented in different ways,  such as with a simpler layout, while still providing the same information and structure.
  • Distinguishable
    You are expected to have easy-to-read fonts, a good colour contrast between your text and background, and a text size of at least 14 points (or a means to achieve that sizing). This also involves making your links and controls highly visible when they receive keyboard or mouse focus.
  • Enough Time
    You are expected to give users the ability to turn off or adjust the time on content that is set to rotate or change automatically after a certain period of time (e.g., web banners), or warn the user that the content will change unless they perform a simple action that extends their time.
  • Seizures
    You should not implement designs or functionalities that act to cause seizures
  • Navigable
    You are expected to implement  navigation systems that help your users navigate, find content, and determine where they are on your site. Simple site maps are a big help.
  • Readable
    You are expected to communicate content with clear and simple language.
  • Input Assistance
    You are expected to implement usability help for website visitors, including form feedback and help/instructions that are clear and obvious.  The ability to request help from every page is reflective of compliance with this requirement.
  • Compatible
    You must select technologies that makes your website highly compatible with various gadgets, including assistive technology gadgets. This is actually a very complex requirement in its details.

Having a website that is compliant with the AODA is not just an option for businesses in Ontario; it is mandatory. Complying with these requirements, which positively affect customer service, reflects upon your business within your community and among your employees.

About the Author

Devin Gauthier is a founding partner of Sandbox Software Solutions. He is expert in best practices of business process discovery, software development and deployment. Devin has extensive experience in project management, resource allocation, database architecture and development, data modelling, programming and web-based GUI development.

Get In Touch With Devin

Phone: 1.866.929.7263 x. 225
LinkedIn: devingauthier

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