2. Understanding the Big Picture
Video: AODA Background
For readers from Ontario, Canada, we’ll provide occasional references to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). If you’re studying here to work with accessibility outside Ontario, you may compare AODA’s web accessibility requirements with those in your local area. They will be similar in many cases and likely based on the W3C WCAG 2.0 guidelines. The goal in Ontario is for all obligated organizations to meet the Level AA accessibility requirements of WCAG 2.0 by 2021, which, ultimately, is the goal of most international jurisdictions.
The AODA provided the motivation to create this resource. All businesses and organizations in Ontario with more than 50 employees (and all public sector organizations) are now required by law to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities (currently Level A). Many businesses still don’t know what needs to be done in order to comply with the new rules, and this resource hopes to fill some of that need.
The AODA was passed as law in 2005, and, in July of 2011, the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) brought together the five standards of the AODA, covering information and communication, employment, transportation, and design of public spaces, in addition to the original customer service standard.
The AODA sets out to make Ontario fully accessible by 2025, with an incremental roll-out of accessibility requirements over a period of 20 years. These requirements span a whole range of accessibility considerations, including physical spaces, customer service, the web, and much more.
Our focus here is on access to information, information technology (IT), and the web. The timeline set out in the AODA requires government and large organizations to remove all barriers in web content between 2012 and 2021. The timeline for these requirements is outlined in the table below. Any new or significantly updated information posted to the web must comply with the given level of accessibility by the given date. This includes both internet and intranet sites. Any content developed prior to January 1, 2012 is exempt.
|Level A||Level AA|
|Government||January 1, 2012 (except live captions and audio description)||January 1, 2016 (except live captions and audio description)|
|January 1, 2020 (including live captions and audio description)|
|Designated Organizations*||Beginning January 1, 2014, new websites and significantly refreshed websites must meet Level A (except live captions and audio description)||January 1, 2021 (except live captions and audio description)|
|* Designated organizations means every municipality and every person or organization as outlined in the Public Service of Ontario Act 2006 Reg. 146/10, or private companies or organizations with 50 or more employees, in Ontario.|
Readings & References: For more about the AODA you can review the following references:
- Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR/AODA)
- Reg. 146/10: Public Bodies and Commission Public Bodies – Definitions
- History of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. (ODA) (David Lepofsky)
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