AODA stands for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. This law was first passed in 2005 to help the province establish greater accessibility in all public, private, non-profit, and government organizations. The AODA’s ultimate goal is to create a fully accessible Ontario by 2025.
While the AODA is a multi-faceted piece of legislation that covers just about every aspect of running an organization, the part that is relevant to you at this time concerns website development. If you have a website, it must be considered accessible by AODA standards by the first day (January 1st) of 2021. The same rules will apply to any websites you create past that date. If you don’t know whether your website to AODA compliant website refer to https://cudest.com/aoda-compliant-website/ so that experts can tell you.
What is an Accessible Website?
An accessible website can be used effectively by any person, regardless of their location, the device they are using, or any disabilities they may have. This requirement applies to all aspects of the site, including:
- Website design.
- Written content.
- Visual components.
- Website functions.
- User interface and navigation.
The prospect of accommodating every possible impairment may sound like a daunting challenge, but there are website design standards you can refer to for help. The WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) provide an outline of all web design accommodations a site must make to be considered fully compliant with accessibility regulations. The current version of the WCAG was published in 2018, with additional updates set to be released in 2021.
Why Is Accessibility Important?
One in seven Ontario residents currently lives with a disability, and this number is likely to rise as the population grows older. Many of these disabilities make it difficult or impossible to navigate standard websites. These impairments include but are not limited to:
- Visual and hearing impairments.
- Susceptibility to seizures.
- Difficulties with fine motor control.
- Learning disabilities that make complex reading difficult.
If you do not account for these conditions when designing your website, people with disabilities may be unable to enjoy the site you have worked so hard to create. It is considered unacceptable to restrict them when they can be accommodated with accessible website design.
There is also a strong practical case to be made for accessible website design. If certain users cannot access your website, they cannot research your products or brand, find your location or contact information, or enjoy any of the content you post to promote your business.
All these site functions are critical marketing touchpoints that help you nurture a lead toward becoming a customer. Accessible website design prevents these problems and ensures that your website can fulfil its marketing purpose, regardless of who uses it.