Dec 1, 2020

Increased Web Page Accessibility Requirements for Private and Non-Profit Organizations in Ontario Come into Effect in 2021 and AODA Accessibility Report Due Date Extended

By Shreya Patel and Cameron McMaster

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (“AODA”) is a legislation designed to ensure that businesses, spaces and workplaces are more accessible to those with disabilities. This has been done through the creation of ‘standards’ through regulation. Timelines have been established to ensure organizations can ready themselves for compliance. The latest and upcoming requirements are summarized below.

Compliance with AODA Web Accessibility Requirements by January 1, 2021

By January 1, 2021, all private or non-profit organizations with 50+ employees and all public sector organizations in Ontario are required to ensure that their websites and web-based apps meet AODA’s accessibility requirements. Specifically, the AODA provides that all public websites and web content posted after January 1, 2021 must meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA standards (“WCAG”), other than criteria 1.2.4 (live captions) and 1.2.5 (pre-recorded audio descriptions). The below provides an overview of the WCAG criteria.

WCAG prescribes the following to increase a web page’s perceptibility:

  • the minimum contrast of the visual presentation of text and images (1.4.3);
  • the maximum text resizing size without the use of assistive technology (1.4.4); and
  • how and when to use text to convey information rather than images of text (1.4.5).

To increase operability, WCAG requires that an organization’s web pages have:

  • multiple ways to locate a web page within a set of web pages except where the web page is the result of, or a step in, a process (2.4.5);
  • headings and labels that describe the topic or purpose of a web page (2.4.6); and
  • a mode of operation where the keyboard focus indicator is visible, where the web page has a keyboard operable user interface (2.4.7).

Finally, organizations are required to make their web pages more understandable by:

  • allowing the human language of each passage or phrase in the content to able to be programmatically determined (3.1.2);
  • implementing consistent navigational mechanisms across all web pages (3.2.3);
  • identifying consistently the components that have the same functionality within a set of web pages (3.2.4);
  • implementing automatic error detection and suggestions for correction, if known (3.3.3); and
  • implementing error prevention methods for prescribed kinds of web page interactions, such as the facilitation of legal commitments or financial transactions (3.3.4).

The exact details of each WCAG Level AA criteria, techniques to implement WCAG, and other helpful resources can be found here.

Accessibility Compliance Reports to be completed by June 30, 2021

Under the AODA, private or non-profit businesses with 20 or more workers, must complete accessibility reports every three years. The next accessibility reports for private or non-profit businesses were due on December 31st, 2020. However, the Ontario government has extended this deadline. This extended deadline for accessibility reports for private or non-profit businesses is June 30th, 2021.

Details on how organizations can complete and submit the accessibility report can be found here. Failure to file accessibility compliance reports may lead to enforcement of financial penalties.

If you need assistance in ensuring that your organization complies with the requirements above, please contact a member of our team.