Ontario websites have until January 1, 2021 to meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA Web Accessibility Requirements; failure to comply may result in daily fines of $50,000 and up
TORONTO, Jan. 8, 2020 /CNW/ -Today, Siteimprove Canada, a SaaS company that helps organizations manage and optimize their websites, reminds public, private, and non-profit organizations in Ontario with 50+ employees they have one year to meet the next deadline for website accessibility compliance. By January 1, 2021, Ontario businesses must make their public-facing websites conformant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) to Level AA, as required by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Download the full guide, titled 'Include Everyone, Keep Everyone' here.
Organizations that fail to comply with the January 1, 2021 deadline could face a fine of up to $50,000 for each day or part of a day on which the offence occurs or continues to occur. If the party that fails to comply is a corporation, they can expect a fine of up to $100,000 for each day or part of a day on which the offence occurs or continues to occur. This includes private businesses, non-profit organizations, municipalities, government ministries, educational institutions, hospitals, offices, retail stores and manufacturing.
"Too many people still can't access websites and transact online," explains Mike Cart, Managing Director, Siteimprove Canada. "Ontario is doing the right thing by establishing clear web accessibility requirements within the law. Everyone in this province deserves equal access to information and services, and in one year from now, we look forward to seeing how much closer organizations in Ontario are to meeting the guidelines. It's a critical time and we're here to help."
Key Facts on Accessibility in Canada:
22 per cent of Canadians aged 15 years and older have at least one disability that limits their everyday activities — that's up from a reported 13 per cent in 2012.
Barriers, both in the physical environment and in digital technology — including an inaccessible website — can limit their everyday activities.
Disabilities can be related to pain, flexibility, mobility, vision, hearing, dexterity, learning, memory or development. Despite this, many people are enabled by adaptive strategies and assistive technologies to navigate websites just like anyone else.
According to Siteimprove's Accessibility World Map, Canada scored 63/100 in website accessibility, trailing a number of developed nations, including the U.S., U.K, and Australia. The U.S. scored the highest with 65, and the United Arab Emirates scored lowest with 58.
The globally-recognized Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) — on which provincial requirements are based — outlines four principles as the basis for web accessibility: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust (meaning websites should be compatible with emerging technologies moving forward).
Tips for meeting WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines, as required by the AODA by January 1, 2021:
Readability - all web content should aim for the reading level of a 12-year-old
Learning disabilities, which impact reading levels, are one of the most common types of disabilities among Canadian youth. Using basic language on your website also helps those whose first language is not English or French. Make sure the content is plain and informal. Keep sentences short and write in an active voice.
Headings - heading tags are critical for use with assistive technologies
Assistive technologies, like screen readers, rely on heading tags to scan a website and understand its structure. Using the correct heading tags (h1, h2, h3, etc.) allows all users to quickly navigate a website and the hierarchy of its content.
Images - all images must contain alt text
Make sure all images on a website contain alternative (alt) text. For Canadians who use a screen reader, alt text explains the content or context of the image. Avoid embedding text inside images, as screen readers cannot render it. It is best to code text separately, on top of the image.
Links - use phrases for links rather than hyperlinked text
Canadians using screen readers often navigate from link to link on a page, which means hyperlinked text can be presented out of context. For example, calls-to-action like "Click here" do not tell the user where those links actually lead. Instead, use phrases like "Learn more about Siteimprove," which tell the user what to expect.
Audio & Video - captions are a must
Without captions or transcripts for videos or podcasts, a website could be excluding the over three million Canadians who identify as being hard-of-hearing. Video captions aid deaf or hard-of-hearing Canadians to watch video content and read along at the same time. Similarly, transcripts enable podcasts to be read, ensuring your audience stays up-to-date with your content. Another guideline to meet at Level AA is pre-recorded audio description track for your videos so non-sighted users can understand the actions within the video as well as dialogue.
Colour - foreground and background colours must have a 4.5:1 contrast ratio
Many Canadians live with colour blindness or low vision. In order to meet WCAG Level AA guidelines, foreground and background colours need to have a 4.5:1 contrast ratio. Designs that are high contrast are clearer for most visitors, but ensure the brightness of a background is not overwhelming. If the 4.5:1 contrast is not met, adjustments may be necessary for your brand palette.
About Siteimprove: Siteimprove offers the world's most comprehensive cloud-based Digital Presence Optimization (DPO) software. The Siteimprove Intelligence Platform provides eye-opening insights that empower you and your team to create higher quality content, drive better traffic, measure digital performance, and work towards regulatory compliance — all from one place. Siteimprove is also proud to offer best-in-class technical support, academy courses, services, and technology integrations. Find out why more than 7,000 organizations around the world practice DPO using the Siteimprove Intelligence Platform atsiteimprove.com.
For further information: Vin Heney, NorthPR (for Siteimprove), [email protected], 416.805.9332