A new AODA requirement for Ontario websites will come into force on January 1st, 2021. The requirement applies to large private sector organizations, as well as public sector organizations with:
Organizations must ensure the accessibility of any web content that they own. In addition, any content that they do not own, but have control over as a third party, must also be accessible. This new AODA requirement for Ontario websites applies to web content created in 2012 or later.
New AODA Requirement for Ontario Websites
Under the Information and Communications Standards, organizations must make their websites, including web-based apps, accessible. Organizations must do so by making their websites compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA. This international standard gives web developers guidelines on how to make their webpages accessible to computer users with disabilities.
There are only two (2) WCAG standards that organizations do not need to follow. These two exceptions are:
- Live captions
- Pre-recorded audio descriptions
Furthermore, the requirement states that organizations do not need to make parts of websites accessible if doing so is “not practicable”. For instance, if tools or software are available to make a web element accessible, organizations must do so. However, if there are no tools or software commercially available to make that element accessible, the organization does not need to do so. Similarly, organizations do not need to make something accessible if accessibility would severely impact a timeline for implementation created before 2012.
All staff who post or update information on their organizations’ websites will soon need to follow these guidelines to obey the new AODA requirement for Ontario websites. The WCAG webpage provides the full list of requirements, as well as technical guidance on how to implement them. Our next series of articles will outline web accessibility and some of the WCAG guidelines.