The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and Your Website
The web has long since become a regular feature of our day-to-day lives, and with that evolution comes the necessity to ensure it is as accessible as possible for all individuals.
That’s one of the key goals of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which “lays the framework for the development of province-wide mandatory standards on accessibility in all areas of daily life.”
The act covers accessibility standards in five areas:
- Customer Service
- Information and Communications
- Design of Public Spaces
The “information and communication” aspect of the act includes standards for ensuring websites are fully accessible for individuals with disabilities. Regarding this area of the act:
“All private and non-profit organizations with 50 or more employees and all public sector organizations will need to make their websites accessible.”
How to Make Your Website More Accessible
The Ministry of Community and Social Services has a PDF document on their website that lays out what you need to do in order to make your website more accessible for individuals with disabilities, as well as individuals who are using a slow internet connection or who have changing abilities due to aging.
The document states:
"Beginning January 1, 2014: If you launch a new public website or your existing site undergoes a significant refresh, the site and any of its web content published after January 1, 2012, must conform to the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level A."
"Beginning January 1, 2021: All public websites and all web content on those sites published after January 1, 2012, must conform with WCG 2.0 Level AA, other than providing captions on live videos or audio descriptions for pre-recorded videos."
Here’s a summary of the main points from the above PDF document on what you need to do to ensure your website is accessible:
- Provide captions and text alternatives for images and multimedia
- Use a strong contrast between the colour of the text and the colour of the background
- Create content that can be presented using assistive technology, such as a screen reader, without losing meaning
- Use structured content and make it keyboard accessible
- Avoid CAPTCHAs (the document recommends using a simple question, such as whether fire is hot or cold, or an audio option) and give users enough time to read and use content
- Avoid time limits when asking users to provide a response or information
- Avoid blinking images
- Help users navigate and find content
- Help users avoid and correct mistakes
- Make tables accessible by indicating what cells are headings and/or rows
The document also recommends you perform an assessment to test your website. It suggests an automatic assessment, a manual assessment and an assessment using assistive technology, such as a screen reader.