A new AODA requirement for Ontario websites will come into force on January 1st, 2021. Under the Information and Communications Standards, organizations must make their websites and 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. Some of these guidelines outline how to make websites accessible to users who operate or interact with them in different ways. Here we will describe a few of these web accessibility guidelines for inputting information.
Web Accessibility Guidelines for Inputting Information
Designers must provide ways to ensure that any information users input is correct. For instance, designers must provide instructions or labels whenever part of a webpage requires users to input information. Moreover, many websites automatically detect user input errors. These websites must point out errors, and describe them using text. Furthermore, if the website can offer suggestions to correct user errors, the site must show the user these suggestions. However, if showing users possible corrections would compromise the site’s security or purpose, the site does not need to point out corrections.
Additional error-correction guidelines apply to websites where users input information that:
- Has legal or financial consequences
- Is kept in data storage systems where it can be changed or removed
- Includes test responses
These sites must offer users more chances to ensure that the information they submit is accurate. For example, websites can allow users to review and confirm the information they input before the final submission. In contrast, websites can include a feature that finds errors and allows users to correct them before submitting. Alternatively, websites can allow users to reverse their submissions.
The WCAG webpage provides the full list of requirements, as well as technical guidance on how to implement them. The AODA only requires websites to follow guidelines in version 2.0, level AA. However, the WCAG webpage provides guidelines at level AAA. In addition, the page also includes new guidelines added in Version 2.1. For example, some additional guidelines for inputting information accessibly are:
- No automatic context changes
- Help that changes according to context
- Additional error-correction guidelines applied to all websites
While websites do not need to follow these guidelines, they can choose to follow them as a best practice. Websites that follow more guidelines have the chance to welcome more visitors and do more online business.