The Ontarians with Disabilities Act isn’t new, it’s been around for a while now. It was introduced in 2001 and with one objective. Improve the identification, removal, and prevention of barriers faced by persons with disabilities and make related amendments
to other Acts. The Ontario government decided to further elaborate this act in 2005 with the “Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)”. It was groundbreaking legislation and the first of its kind in Canada.
AODA’s purpose is to create the accessibility standards that organizations from public, private, and non-profit sectors must follow and make an accessible province for all Ontarians.
The standards of the AODA give all people an equal footing as they work, play, learn, teach, buy, sell, and use their diverse talents to benefit their communities and their province. The target date was set as January 1, 2025, for making Ontario inclusive, accessible to people with disabilities.
In 2016, five standards of the AODA are combined under the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR). The standards include Information and Communications, Employment, Transportation, Design of Public Places, and Customer Service.
Note: The Accessible Canada Act mandates accessibility standards that apply to organizations only under federal jurisdiction. The provincial accessibility laws such as AODA set the standards and guidelines for organizations within the province.
Why is Accessibility important?
Accessibility is good for both the economy and the community. Read more about the different types of disabilities, how the improved standard of living and population growth resulted in an increase of disabled people and why digital accessibility is important. Simply put, it is all about inclusiveness, and a way to ensure that no one is excluded. If your application isn’t accessible, then you are creating additional barriers for your users with disabilities.
It’s time to comply with AODA
Businesses and Non-Profits with 20 or more employees, the deadline to meet the current accessibility requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is June 30, 2021.
Time is already running out for Ontario companies to comply with new standards to make their websites accessible for people with disabilities. It was originally set to January 1st, 2021 but the deadline is extended till June 30th, 2021. Failing to comply could result in enforcement including financial penalties for the following organizations.
- Businesses or Non-Profits with 20 or more employees
- Public sector organizations
- Educational Institutions (Colleges, Universities, and Schools)
- Producers of Educational Material (Textbooks)
- Library boards
What does it mean for Digital Accessibility?
The legislation mandates any new or significantly refreshed public websites for organizations listed in the previous section. The webpage content including text, images, forms, and sounds should all be accessible and conform to the WCAG 2.0 level AA. Only exceptions to this rule being live captions and pre-recorded audio descriptions for media.