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Web Accessibility Requirements Have Just Had a Big Shakeup: Here's What You Need to Know

April 4, 2020

by

Amir M

There’s a reason that Canada is known as one of the most progressive, forward-thinking countries in the world.

Along with its world-renowned liberal policymaking, Canada — and Ontario, in particular — is also ahead of the game when it comes to web accessibility. And as we approach 2021, a new set of requirements is about to kick in for many Canadian businesses. 

So is your website compliant?

What is AODA?

First enacted in 2005, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is a long-term statute designed to ensure all disabled people have equal access to programs and services provided by both public and private organizations. 

The goal of AODA is to ensure that all organizations are compliant with the legislation by 2025. The act has been rolled out in various stages over the years, with the deadlines for small businesses set for January 1st, 2021. By then, all public sector organizations and all private companies with more than 50 employees must have “100% accessible web content”.

But what does that mean? 

What are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0?

Because the term “accessible” is somewhat subjective, AODA lays out a series of guidelines that all new and “significantly refreshed” websites must abide by.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG, were developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (the big cheese when it comes to web design) and provide strict rules according to which websites should be built.

We won’t get into the various flavors of WCAG, but suffice it to say that the latest version (WCAG 2.0 Level AA) is focused on assisting people with:

  • Blindness or low vision
  • Deafness or loss of hearing
  • Mobility impairment
  • Speech impairment
  • Cognitive impairment.

How to achieve WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliance

It’s useful to understand why you’re designing in a certain way. But for designers and brands, the more important question is how.

If you want to ensure your website is WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliant, it must be open and accessible to everyone. This means you must:

  • Ensure all text and images have a contrast ratio of 4:5:1
  • Offer captions for all live audio content
  • Offer audio description for all pre-recorded video content
  • Provide the option to resize all text up to 200% without third-party tools
  • Offer text descriptions of all images where possible
  • Make sure all headings and labels are descriptive of topic or purpose.

This is just a sampling from the Level AA guidelines. If you want the complete lowdown on how to make your site compliant, explore the full WCAG 2.0 guidelines on the W3C website.

Are you ready for the AODA changes?

We built Blackcreek with accessibility at the heart of our design philosophy. That said, we also understand that web accessibility regulations can be tricky to navigate.

If you’d like any help making your web design compliant, or you simply want to work with an agency that designs for everyone, get in touch with our team today.