Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

AODA applies to all public and private organizations who do business in Ontario, Canada, requiring websites and apps to be accessible by 2021.

    What is AODA?

    The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is a law that was established by the government of Ontario in Canada to develop and enforce accessibility standards for government, businesses, nonprofits, and public sector organizations. Their goal is for the province of Ontario to be accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. The AODA does include specific requirements that define whether or not something is accessible; however, it places greater emphasis on process-oriented requirements. For example, all organizations regardless of size are obligated to train their teams on accessibility and their legal responsibilities as employees, there must be a way for people with disabilities to give feedback or ask for help, employment practices must be accessible, and all organizations with more than 20 employees must formally report on their accessibility progress to the Ontario government.

    Important AODA Compliance Deadlines

    All public sector organizations (including government, municipalities, and educational institutions) and all private organizations with 50 or more employees (including businesses, nonprofits, and private educational institutions) are required to make all of their websites and web content accessible by January 1st, 2021. More specifically: New internet and web content (defined as all content published or modified after January 1, 2012) must be WCAG 2.0 A compliant by January 1, 2014 (in effect now). All internet and web content (excluding live captioning and audio descriptions) must be WCAG 2.0 AA compliant by January 1, 2021. So anything published now must be WCAG 2.0 A. Anything published after January 1, 2021 must be WCAG 2.0 AA.

    In addition to requirements specific to web content, the AODA includes more general requirements for the accessibility of employment and recruiting processes and materials, emergency plan materials, ways of providing feedback, customer service materials and kiosks. These requirements went into effect between 2012 and 2016 for all organizations. If an organization has opted to provide those materials via the web or digital document type, then they will need to ensure those digital materials meet accessibility requirements.

    How to take action and meet AODA compliance requirements

    The Ontarian government is very clear that the goal of the AODA is to integrate accessibility policies and considerations into the day-to-day processes and operations of all public and private organizations in Ontario. If your organization is subject to AODA web and digital accessibility requirements, here are some steps you can take to help ensure your compliance:

    1. Speak to your organization’s legal counsel to make sure you understand the scope of the requirements and any deadlines you need to be aware of.
    2. Map out how your organization is currently meeting requirements to provide different materials in an accessible format and note which of those materials are web-based or presented in a digital format.
    3. Discuss future web properties your team is working on and how you plan to ensure those properties are accessible.
    4. Provide digital accessibility training for your teams that generate web content and digital materials and seek consulting help.

    Start investigating tools and other ways to support and facilitate your teams to build accessible content.

    Illustration of a subject matter expert and accessibility manager working together.

    Benefits of AODA Compliance

    Serving a wider audience

    Accessible content will widen your available target audience opening new revenue opportunities.

    Decreased legal risk

    Organizations who actively pursue accessibility excellence are better positioned to address claims and avoid costly violations.

    Increased Search Presence

    Providing transcripts for audio visual files are discoverable by search engines.

    Better overall user experience

    Studies show that optimizations made in UI/UX for accessibility also benefit people without disabilities.

    How Deque Can Help

    Responding to an immediate need, or building the foundation for a sustainable and long term digital accessibility practice, Deque has the most complete suite of tools, services and training available. Our accessibility library has been downloaded over 4M times. Our accessibility testing extensions have been downloaded over 250,000 times, and we’ve completed over 1,000 projects.

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    Most accessibility projects begin and end with an audit – they assess the current state of your site or application’s accessibility resulting in a clear accessibility report.

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    This patented tool helps fix accessibility defects in existing web content without changing the underlying source code. This is the fastest DIY path to getting compliant asap.

    Learn More about Amaze software


    Getting help from our team of experts will ensure your accessibility fixes will meet your compliance requirements as quickly and effectively as possible.

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    axe Testing Tools

    The axe DevTools, axe Auditor and axe Monitor products enable accessibility experts and development to test and maintain accessibility end-to-end.

    Learn More about the axe Tools Suite