The Ontario Accessibility 2021 deadline, now set to June 30, 2021 from December 31 2020, is fast approaching. If you have not already started the important and potentially mountainous task of ensuring your site meets the WCAG 2.0 AA requirements it’s time to start planning and making it a priority. Here is what you need to know.
Who does the deadline apply to?
The deadline applies to the following organizations;
- Private or non-profit organizations and businesses with more than 20 employees
- Public sector organizations
If you are under 20 persons currently but expect to grow, this would apply to you when you reach that threshold.
What is required?
For the organizations that meet the size threshold mentioned above the following is required for the deadline;
- All website and web content must be compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA.
- Submission of an Accessibility compliance report by June 30, 2021
Failure to comply may result in fines of up to $100,000 for each day violations go unresolved.
Why is this important?
Everyone, regardless of how they use a computer to access the internet, should be able to work, acquire the information they need, shop for food or entertainment and interact with their government and schools. The Accessible Canada Act has put Canada on the course to making this a reality and Ontario is leading the way to ensure everyone has the same rights when it comes to the internet.
Regardless of whether your organization currently has 20+ people, you should be striving to make your website and its content more inclusive by being accessible. The larger number of people who can use your site, the more you and your organization benefits.
Here are some basic suggestions on how you can position yourself to be ready for the deadline and the future growth of your organization.
Make a plan
If you are arriving late to the party or feeling behind in finishing your accessible website, firstly, establish a clear and detailed plan. This should include;
- Start and end dates for your accessibility goals, even if they go past the deadline.
- An overall outline of the WCAG rules, including what compliance guidelines you currently meet and which you are working on achieving.
- If work will trail past the deadline, keep track of this and what’s in place to help ensure you will correct and continue to do as soon as possible.
- Document any third party help you are enlisting to help achieve your goals (more on this later).
- Include a section about your content and downloadables and how they will be made accessible over time. Provide numbers and percentages of current, future and older content.
It’s important to have a plan in place when you submit your compliance report. Should you miss the deadline and are contacted about outstanding issues, you will be able to present a clear outline that demonstrates you are striving to comply. While it’s no guarantee, a detailed plan may help ward off fines and could possibly wrangle you more time to finish and focus your resources on your accessibility efforts.
Provide a contact or an alternate ways to acquire or view content
If you are focused on building an accessible website but not on the content itself, you could launch your updated site but still fall short on providing what your customers need. Converting thousands of content posts and PDF downloads into an accessible, screen-reader friendly format is time consuming and can be expensive. One way around this is to give a contact email or form allowing users to request that document in an accessible format. This lets you update your library of documents and other downloadables to an accessible format, piecemeal over time.
Focus on the immediate front facing interactions
All WCAG AA guidelines should be adhered to, however there are priority items to focus on that quickly bridge the gap between non-compliance and mostly compliant.
- Keyboard interactions - Focus & Navigation
- Touch - Mobile Gestures, Touch interactions and navigation
- Visual Presentation - Colour and meaning in the design of the site
- Alternate Text - Alt Text/descriptions for images and other important graphics
- Audio/Video - Providing Close Captions and transcripts for video content on the site
- Semantics & Document Structure - Page structure (headers, landmarks etc.) and documents are accessible friendly format for screen readers
- Forms - Proper labels, interacted with and submitted via alternate input methods.
For more information on all the requirements that must be taken into consideration check out the W3.Org site for details on success criteria and how they can be implemented.
Third Party Help
There are a variety of companies, many with automated tools, that can help identify your accessibility compliance issues. But it is best to choose a company that are accessibility experts. One that can teach you about content accessibility, complete fixes to your site, and not just identify problems.
Industrial and Accessibility
If you have yet to consider website accessibility, it’s often easier and cheaper to build a site from the ground up rather than retrofitting old systems. At Industrial this is something we specialize in and have done for many years.
Even if you have a new site or a site we have built for you in the past, we can offer a variety of audits and checks as a precaution for you to consider to make sure your site meets the requirements for the upcoming deadline. Most importantly, should we find any issues with your website, we have the expertise to action these recommendations and train you to maintain this standard going forward.
The Accessibility Action Plan (AAP) - From Industrial
If your organization's website is slightly behind and in need of a compliance rejuvenation, our action plan will chart you a new, accessible course.
Take Action Today!
Reach out to Industrial and start your digital transformation: