The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is a 2005 provincial law designed to improve access for Ontarians with disabilities, giving them the opportunity to fully participate in all aspects of daily life.Talk to an Expert
What Is AODA?
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created in 2005 to eliminate obstacles for people with disabilities. Its purpose is to improve accessibility for Ontarians with physical or mental impairments in all public establishments. The ADA has a compliance deadline of 2025.
The ADA includes specific mandates for web design, applications, and digital content to ensure accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Web accessibility is a core component of ADA, due to the gradual switch to digital tools and technology in modern life.
The ADA requires compliance in five areas of business, including customer service, employment information, transportation along with the design of public spaces.
Who Does AODA Apply To?
Unlike the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the AODA offers clear guidance on who it applies to.
The ADA states that all private companies and nonprofit entities with over 50 employees, and all public sector websites must comply with AODA web accessibility standards. The required conformance level is WCAG 2.0 Level AA success criteria.
Notably, a key difference with AODA is the requirement for compliance, rather than conformance. This means that by law, applicable websites must make the necessary accessibility changes to reach the required WCAG 2.0 standards.
In addition, all other Canadian websites should comply with WCAG 2.0 2.0 Level A success criteria.
AODA Compliance - The Five Key AODA Standards
- Customer Service Standard
- Information and Communication Standard
- Employment Standard
- Transportation Standard
- Design of Public Spaces Standard
AODA Core Principles
- Independence- Those with disabilities should have the maximum amount of opportunity to lead an independent life. However, accessibility barriers can prevent this from being the case. AODA seeks to challenge such obstacles to ensure a fairer society for everyone.
- Dignity- When a person with a disability can live their daily lives without barriers, it instills a sense of dignity. In contrast, when a person is prevented from completing certain tasks due to having a disability, and no consideration has been made to make that task adaptable, this creates a barrier to dignity.
- Integration- Equality is about having equal opportunities as everyone else. In accessibility terms, this means not having to accept barriers or a lesser quality experience due to having a disability.
- Equality- Those with disabilities should have the maximum amount of opportunity to lead an independent life. However, accessibility barriers can prevent this from being the case. AODA seeks to challenge such obstacles to ensure a fairer society for everyone.
How To Know If A Website Conforms With AODA
Ensuring conformance with AODA standards requires expert knowledge of web design and development along with accessibility challenges. Furthermore, the AODA also requires training in the Ontario Human Rights Code. It is for this reason that as with conformance with other web accessibility standards which exist, AODA auditing, reporting, and remedial work is a specialist task.
If a website has not been designed with AODA standards in mind or has not received a recent AODA evaluation, it is likely non-accessible and therefore, non-compliant. Given the fines that can be given due to non-compliance with the required WCAG 2.0 standards, applicable organizations should undertake remedial work without delay.