What You Need to Know About New AODA Regulations
Updated: August 24, 2020
On January 1, 2021, Canadians and accessibility enthusiasts will be celebrating more than just a new year; they’ll also be celebrating a new phase of the AODA.
By the aforementioned date, all public websites and web content, including video content, posted after January 1, 2012, must meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines.
What is the AODA?
The Accessibility for Ontarians Act, otherwise known as the AODA, is an accessibility law based in Ontario, Canada and it regulates standards across government, public, and private sectors. It was enacted in 2005 to create a barrier-free Ontario by 2025 whether it be physically, technologically, or informationally.
Under this law, all large private and non-profit organizations with 50 or more employees and all public sector organizations are required to make their websites accessible.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, 1 in 7 Ontarians has a disability and this number is expected to rise in the coming years.
In order to attain the goal of an Ontario without barriers for all its citizens, including those with disabilities, the AODA has set forth a series of phases to gradually implement the law in order to reach full compliance by 2025.
It’s imperative that organizations stay up-to-date with the new AODA phases since updates are continuously made. If companies aren’t proactive, there are penalties for failing to be in compliance with the law. Corporations can face significant fines of up to $100,000 for each day they aren’t compliant with the AODA. Additionally, directors and officers can be found liable for fines of up to $50,000 for each day their organization fails to comply.
AODA and WCAG 2.0
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is the internationally accepted standards for website accessibility that was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
When organizations follow WCAG standards, they make their content accessible to all users, specifically users with disabilities. Considering the fact that 71% of people with disabilities leave a website immediately if it’s inaccessible, following WCAG will help attract and retain visitors on your site.
Each guideline of WCAG has three levels of compliance: level A, AA, and AAA. Level AA is considered the industry standard for web accessibility and it’s referenced in many laws and policies around the world.
Producing WCAG-Compliant Videos
In order for video content to be compliant with WCAG 2.0 Level AA, they must be made accessible with captions and audio description.
For time-based media, like online video content, here’s what your organization needs to provide:
Since WCAG is backward compliant, in order to meet Level AA standards, you must meet Level A standards as well.
The Roadmap to Video Accessibility:
The journey toward achieving accessibility may seem like a challenging one, but with the right tools and resources, you’ll be well-equipped to give all Ontarians access to your website and web content.
Planning ahead and implementing accessibility tools like captioning and audio description will help you meet the AODA requirements in a timely manner.
We recommend your organization be proactive and get started early in order to be in compliance with the law by January 2021.
Make sure your organization is prepared for the new AODA deadline. This checklist will help you gauge where you’re at currently and what you need to be prepared.
This blog post is written for educational and general information purposes only and does not constitute specific legal advice. This blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
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