The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act (AODA) are laws that government, businesses, non-profits and public sector organizations must follow to be more accessible for everyone.
Websites must be AODA compliant so that information is easily and comfortably obtained when searching on the internet.
There are almost 2 million people living in Ontario with disabilities, and this is estimated to rise by the year 2036 as the population ages. The province of Ontario is home to two of the largest cities in Canada, Toronto and Ottawa, and a popular destination for tourists. Research shows that accessibility is good for business with an estimated increase of GDP by up to $600 per capita. 
If you are considering redesigning your website, working through the compliance process, or not sure if you must be compliant by law for your current website, the following information is a brief overview of the AODA standard as it pertains to web accessibility (Section 14).
Who should have an AODA compliant website?
If you have 50+ employees or are a public sector organization, you must have an AODA compliant website. The requirements and deadlines you need to follow depend on the type and size of your organization. You are exempt if you are self-employed and do not have employees.
Even if your business is not required to be compliant at this point, the goal is to have the province completely accessible by 2025. Many web designers are now creating websites for all their customers based on this criteria.
If you are doing business outside Canada, you need to comply with Section 508 in the US and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) internationally.
Tips on becoming compliant
- An online validator can be used as a preliminary check to see if your website has any major design problems.
- Have someone with disabilities test your website to offer feedback
- Keep accurate records of completed tasks and a road map of future compliance work, just in case you are requested to present this information.
- It is always recommended to have an AODA web design expert review your website to ensure compliance.
AODA website criteria at a glance
- Provide text alternatives for non-text content.
- Provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia.
- Create content that can be presented in different ways, including by assistive technologies, without losing meaning.
- Make it easier for users to see and hear content.
- Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
- Give users enough time to read and use content.
- Do not use content that causes seizures.
- Help users navigate and find the content.
- Make text readable and understandable.
- Make content appear and operate in predictable ways.
- Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
- Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools.
The W3 website includes the above brief overview and further details on how to meet the design requirements for an AODA compliant website.
Communicating with your internal team is as important as your communicating with your public audiences, and AODA standards apply to both audiences.
As of January 2017, all organizations with 1-49 employees had to have 4 requirements in place to be compliant for accessible workplaces; including hiring, workplace information, talent and performance management, and communication of accessibility policies.
An internal website, or intranet, is a valuable internal communication tool and should be designed at the same level of accessibility standards as an external website. Part of accessibility compliance is training and providing access to policies & procedures. An intranet can be a valuable tool to assist in meeting AODA mandatory communication standards .
If you are a small business looking to update your website and do not already have an intranet in place, there are AODA compliant content management systems that allow for public viewing website pages as well as internal pages that can only be viewed through a secure member/employee login. e.g. TYMBREL platform by CMS Intelligence - Case Study | L. Dunkley Communications
The benefit of doing everything together is that there is only one system to learn, one technical support management team, scalable for growth, and offers consolidated hosting fees.