AODA Compliance: Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Website accessibility is not just a goal but a commitment to providing inclusivity and equal access to all users, including people with disabilities.

Today, there are specific accessibility requirements in the United States and other countries in and outside of the European Union. That is what the AODA compliance is. It plays an essential role in various organizations’ private and public websites.

What Is AODA Compliance?

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, introduced in 2005, is among the most critical web accessibility laws. It aims to identify, remove, and prevent all barriers and make Ontario accessible for all people with disabilities by setting standards for accessibility.

Ontario was the first province in the world to create an accessibility law to eliminate discrimination and ensure equal access to people with disabilities.

The AODA compliance helps create an environment where everyone can fully participate in everyday life, encouraging all government agencies, private and public organizations, and businesses to provide easy access.

How Many Criteria Are There?

5 major standards aim to identify and remove all barriers for people with disabilities.

They are:

  • Customer Service Standards – providing easy access to all types of services and products, as well as information and communication digital platforms.
  • Information and Communication Standards – these standards aim to guarantee equal access to information and communication. It includes websites, web content, electronic documents, software, and other ways of digital communication;
  • Transportation Standards – these standards apply to public and private organizations that provide public transport. The law obliges them to ensure easy transport for people with disabilities;
  • Employment Standards – the standards oblige businesses to provide easy application and employment process for people with disabilities;
  • Design of Public Spaces Standards – the accessibility requirements include providing easy access to all outdoor public areas.

Who Must Follow AODA Requirements?

AODA requirements apply to public and private organizations and entities operating in Ontario. It is important to clarify that some of the law specifications vary depending on the type and size of the organization or business.

The following organizations must comply with the AODA compliance requirements:

  • Public sector organizations – it includes all provincial and municipal government departments, ministries, municipalities, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, and many others;
  • Private sector organizations – it refers to small and large organizations with one or more employees that operate in Ontario and provide goods and services to the public or have a significant relationship with the public. It includes businesses, corporations, non-profit organizations, and others.

Large organizations with 50 or more employees must comply with all AODA requirements, including developing and implementing accessibility policies and plans, meeting the necessary standards, and filing accessibility reports.

On the other hand, small organizations with fewer than 50 employees are not required to file accessibility reports. However, they are still expected to meet specific accessibility requirements, such as providing equal access to customer services and accessible formats upon request.

  • Non-profit organizations – the AODA requires all non-profit organizations, regardless of size, to comply with all accessibility standards if they provide goods, services, or facilities.

Because of the broad scope of AODA compliance, we recommend that you review the AODA requirements that are specific to your sector.

Why Is AODA Important, and What Happens if Your Website Isn’t AODA-Compliant?

The law can apply fines and penalties if an organization or business fails to comply with the AODA. In addition, this compliance aims to remove all accessibility barriers for people with disabilities and ensure a better living environment and equal access for all Ontarians.

Besides the fact that businesses must be accessible regarding legal requirements, ensuring web accessibility has other benefits.

Equal access ensures reaching a wider audience. Additionally, being a socially responsible company will enhance your reputation, leading to more excellent business opportunities.

Lastly, website accessibility ensures a more effective performance and a better user experience for everyone who visits it.

Fines and Penalties

According to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, non-compliance with accessibility requirements can result in fines and penalties. They vary depending on the nature and severity of the violation.

Here are some of the main consequences of non-compliance with AODA:

  • Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs) – The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario can impose AMPs for non-compliance with AODA. The penalties can be significant and intend to encourage organizations to meet their accessibility obligations.The maximum penalties for violating the legal requirements of the AODA are as follows:
    • Up to $100,000 per day for corporations;
    • Up to $50,000 per day for individuals.
  • Compliance orders – if an organization fails to comply with the AODA’s requirements, the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario may issue a Compliance Order. It outlines the steps the organization must take to resolve the non-compliance and achieve accessibility. Additional penalties and legal consequences may be applied if you do not comply with the Compliance Order.
  • Other legal actions – people with disabilities can take legal action against companies and organizations for AODA violations. In this case, the organization must pay damages and compensation to the affected person. Moreover, there are additional legal fees and associated costs.

How to Check Your Website?

Using web accessibility software is the best way to check a website. This innovative tool scans and analyzes each page to check if it meets all accessibility requirements.

After checking the entire site, the software will provide an in-depth report showing if there are any accessibility issues and what they are.

How to Make Your Website AODA Compliant?

It is critical to follow a few main accessibility laws. In addition to AODA compliance, there are several other regulations.

They are:

  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines – known as WCAG compliance, these are accessibility standards developed by the World Wide Web Consortium in 1999. They are internationally recognized and mandatory for many countries, including the United States;
  • ADA website compliance – the Americans with Disabilities Act is a legal requirement that has a broad scope. Its purpose is to eliminate discrimination and ensure equal access to public and private organizations, public transportation, and other activities;
  • Section 508 compliance – it is a section of the Rehabilitation Act that applies to all federal agencies. Section 508 requires ensuring all of the information and communication technologies the agencies provide are accessible to people with disabilities.

Compliance with the AODA and other standards is critical to improving the performance of your website.

However, to improve accessibility, you must ensure that you provide the following things:

  • Add alternative text in images and buttons;
  • Provide audio descriptions;
  • Add audio and video transcriptions and captions;
  • Use appropriate color contrast that differentiates text from the background;
  • Provide assistive technologies to make your site easier to access;
  • Use an easy-to-read font size;
  • Create content that is easy to read and understand, etc.

Why Trust QualiBooth for Your AODA Success?

QualiBooth provides an innovative solution to ensure you meet all website accessibility requirements. Our software is easy to implement and takes minutes to install.

Our accessibility checker will scan and analyze every single page of your website every time users visit it. You also get a detailed accessibility compliance report that will provide helpful information on how well the site performs.

Be an example for others and ensure equal access to all users, including people with disabilities.

FAQs

What Is AODA Compliance?

AODA stands for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It was first introduced in 2005 to eliminate discrimination and ensure equal access to people with disabilities.

What Are the 5 AODA Standards?

Here are the 5 AODA standards:

      • Customer Service standards;
      • Information and Communication standards;
      • Transportation standards;
      • Employment standards;
      • Design of Public Spaces standards.
Who Is Required to Be Compliant With AODA?

AODA compliance applies to the following types of organizations:

      • Public sector organizations (public transport, hospitals, universities, colleges, etc.);
      • Private sector organizations (small and large businesses);
      • Non-profit organizations.