Summary: Get familiar with AODA, learn if the requirements apply to your organization, and find out how to become compliant.
What is AODA compliance in Ontario?
If you aren't sure what the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is, then you need to get up to speed on it quickly. AODA was enacted in Ontario, Canada, in 2005, and is an all-encompassing act that dictates and improves the accessibility standards for Ontarians.
If you are a company that's interested in getting up to code with AODA compliance, now is the time to begin. This act dictates that public and private organizations should be accessible to anyone with physical or cognitive disabilities. This includes digital accessibility for websites, apps, and other web content.
The goal of the AODA is to make Ontario accessible for people with disabilities by 2025. However, we will explain why it's in your best interest to comply with AODA today.
AODA has five main standards
The five standards to keep in mind with AODA are related to key areas of everyday life.
- Customer Service
- Information and Communications
- Built environment
If your organization is not compliant with AODA, then you are subject to penalties of up to $100,000 per day! If you don't have that kind of cash to dole out, it's time to become compliant with AODA and more inclusive to people with disabilities.
Also, if you have an organization with 20 or more employees, you need to file online reports as of 2017 to ensure that you are compliant with AODA and its accompanying standards. Disability support services are becoming mandatory to be in business now.
General AODA requirements
In addition to the 5 standards above, there are some general requirements that AODA wants every organization to comply with.
- To provide training to staff and volunteers
- To develop an accessibility policy
- To create a multi-year accessibility plan and update it every 5 years
- To consider accessibility in procurement and when designing or purchasing self-service kiosks
These are pretty self-explanatory, as you can see.
Who must comply with AODA?
The AODA is a provincial legislation that requires all organizations in Ontario to comply with certain standards in order to ensure the full participation of persons with disabilities in the province. This includes businesses and non-profit organizations that have at least 1 employee, private sector organizations that provide goods, services or facilities, public sector organizations including all provincial ministries, municipalities and school boards.
The AODA applies to various types of organizations, including:
- Private sector corporations and their registered charities
- Not-for-profit organizations
- Educational institutions
- Municipal governments and agencies, boards, commissions and committees of municipal governments
The AODA is enforced by the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario.
What makes a website AODA compliant?
The short answer is that a website must meet the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. But what does that mean, exactly?
WCAG 2.0 stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. These guidelines are a set of standards that all websites must meet to be accessible to people with disabilities.
There are three levels of WCAG 2.0 compliance: A, AA, and AAA. Level A is the most basic level of compliance, while AAA is the most stringent.
To be AODA compliant, websites, apps, and other public web content must meet all the requirements of WCAG 2.0 at Level AA.
This is the legal requirement for Ontarians as of January 1, 2021.
1 in 7 Ontarians has a disability and that number will increase to 1 in 5 by 2036
If you think that accessibility is something that doesn't affect you, think again. Not only are the numbers of Ontarians with disabilities growing (the numbers come from the Ontario Human Rights Commission).
Also, it is estimated by 2035, people will disabilities will comprise 40% of Ontario's consumer base. That's a huge chunk of people that you would be missing out on if you didn't accommodate them. People with disabilities have a total buying power of $55 billion annually!
Disability support should be a major part of your organizational strategy.
TestPros Ensures Your Website Is AODA Compliant
Thinking of AODA as a minor inconvenience is the wrong approach. People with Disabilities are a huge chunk of the population and the more you can include them into your planning and strategy process, the better your organization will be.
If you are concerned about becoming compliant due to the AODA accessibility requirements, then contact our experts. We have a wide variety of Accessibility Compliance Services, that will get your organization up to speed fast, and easily.