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Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act: Making the Web More Accessible
While the exact date is not decided, based on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), it is expected that in the near future web sites will have to be made accessible.
In this article, we will take a look at the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, and the significance of web standards such as the WCAG 2.0 to this legislation.
What is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, or AODA, is a law that focuses on the development of accessibility standards for all Ontarians. The government of Ontario is responsible for developing and implementing these standards.
The accessibility standards will be mandatory and will be designed to identify, remove, and prevent barriers for people with disabilities. Both private and public sectors within Ontario are required to adhere to these standards.
On January 1, 2010, the public sector is expected to have met the first stage of compliance. This stage consists of new customer service standards. Private businesses, non-profit organizations, and other service providers have to complete this stage by 2012.
The AODA became law on June 13, 2005. It derived most of its principles from the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001.
Purpose of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
The following text discusses the purpose of the AODA. This was taken from e-laws.gov.on.ca.
Recognizing the history of discrimination against persons with disabilities in Ontario, the purpose of this Act is to benefit all Ontarians by,
(a) developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025; and
(b) providing for the involvement of persons with disabilities, of the Government of Ontario and of representatives of industries and of various sectors of the economy in the development of the accessibility standards. 2005, c. 11, s. 1.
Key Areas of the AODA
The AODA focuses on the following Key Areas:
- Accessible Customer Service
- Accessible Information and Communications
- Accessible Built Environment
- Employment Accessibility
AODA and web accessibility
As stated above, a key area of AODA is accessible information and communications. This includes the World Wide Web. AODA, therefore, aims to ensure the accessibility of all public and privately owned websites developed by individuals and groups in Ontario.
In order for websites to meet this AODA standard, the government of Ontario will require web developers to follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.
WCAG 2.0 refers to a set of internationally recognized guidelines and methods used by web developers to make their sites accessible for persons with disabilities. This document describes in detail the things you need to do, as well as the things you should avoid, to make your site accessible. Basically, you need to refer to WCAG 2.0 while developing and adding content to your website.
At first glance, you may find the WCAG 2.0 quite lengthy and hard to follow. However, you only need to focus on the requirements for web content which your site contains, and the whole documentation is really not as complicated as it seems. By doing so, you eliminate many of the apparently intimidating aspects of WCAG 2.0. In addition, the efforts you make to meet the WCAG 2.0 requirements would greatly benefit all visitors of your website.
To further help you realize that the WCAG 2.0 is truly not complex, we have prepared a free WCAG 2.0 tutorial (opens in new window). Through this tutorial, we aim to help website owners in better understanding and following WCAG 2.0.
Useful AODA Resources
Below are links to pages containing useful information regarding the AODA: