We’ve designed Accessible Web RAMP from the ground up to support your company in achieving and maintaining ADA and AODA compliance. Below is more information on best practices and how RAMP can help you achieve compliance:
AODA, ADA, WCAG Conformance, and more
About the AODA
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is a provincial law in Ontario, Canada, that aims to create a more accessible and inclusive province for people with disabilities. AODA includes accessibility requirements for various sectors, including websites and web content. The specific requirements for a website under AODA are in the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR).
About the ADA
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law in the United States that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities and mandates equal access to goods, services, and facilities, including digital content. While the ADA does not explicitly outline technical standards for website accessibility, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicated that websites should adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA as a standard for ADA compliance. Additionally, the ADA Title III regulations apply to businesses and organizations considered places of public accommodation, which may include websites offering goods or services to the public.
Accessible Web’s approach (and a disclaimer)
There is a lot of overlap between AODA and ADA requirements. Best practices for web accessibility have been established by the IAAP and other W3C. Here is our list of recommendations and solutions that your organization should implement as part of your web accessibility compliance strategy. We’re not lawyers, and this isn’t legal advice. Please consult with your attorney or have them give us a call.
The AODA requires that all public and private sector organizations that provide goods or services to the public; or that interact with other organizations, conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA for all website content and web-based applications. The new WCAG 2.1 is expected to become a requirement as well.
The first step that we recommend in achieving WCAG 2.1 AA conformance is using the automated accessibility scanning tools built into our Accessible Web Helper Chrome extension and RAMP’s page monitoring to identify failures on your website or application. Follow our remediation recommendations, and you should be able to achieve a 100/100 automated score.
Automated tools can’t test for every WCAG success criterion. You’ll need to do manual audits to achieve full conformance. If you’re getting started with web accessibility, we’d recommend signing up for our WCAG Audit service. If you’re experienced with WCAG, consider using our Guided Manual Audit Tool.
If you need help remediating the issues uncovered by our automated scanner or manual audits, consider signing up for our A11y Partner program for professional support.
Once you’ve done the work to upgrade your website or application, make sure you’re deliberate in maintaining accessibility in your designs, content, and code as your website or app evolves over time. RAMP accessibility monitoring and our A11y Partner Program are useful tools in ongoing maintenance.
Websites covered by AODA must include an accessibility statement. The statement should outline the organization’s commitment to accessibility and provide information on how users can request accessible formats or accommodations if needed. Learn more about what should be included in your accessibility statement with Tips on Writing an Accessibility Statement.
Don’t have an existing accessibility statement page? Quickly and easily add an accessibility statement to your website easy with the A11y Center–included with all RAMP accounts. Utilize and customize the default statement provided in the A11y Center, or start fresh with a fully customized accessibility statement.
Check out our free Accessibility Statement Generator for help developing a custom accessibility statement for your website or application.
Websites should provide a feedback mechanism to allow users to report any accessibility issues they encounter while using the website. Organizations must respond to feedback and take necessary actions to address accessibility barriers.
Installing the A11y Center on your site allows your organization to assign an accessibility advocate, receive feedback and issue reports, and respond promptly to user submissions.
Organizations must train employees and volunteers who create or update website content on accessibility standards and how to conform to WCAG 2.0 Level AA. Training is required by the AODA and is an important part of any comprehensive organizational accessibility policy. Everyone in your organization can benefit from proper accessibility training: from leadership to content creators to developers.
Accessible Web Academy offers accessibility courses and role-specific course bundles designed to bring everyone up to speed on accessibility best practices as they apply to specific organizational roles.
Investing in accessibility training has additional benefits beyond compliance, including reduced rework, easier accessibility maintenance, and more cohesive team buy-in around accessibility initiatives.
If accessibility requirements are not met, organizations must document why compliance is not possible for specific elements and provide an explanation in an accessible format upon request. Ideally, exceptions are only for third-party code that can’t be controlled by the website owner.
The best practice is to identify any exceptions within or below your organization’s accessibility statement. Include a note outlining the actions your organization is taking to remove the third-party code in the future or mention that you’ve alerted the third-party developer and are waiting on a fix.
If expectations exist on your website or application, it is especially important to provide an issue reporting form–like the Report an Issue form in the A11y–so users can request accommodations when necessary. The A11y Center also helps facilitate support for reasonable accommodations by prompting your organization to assign an Accessibility Advocate, who can respond quickly to requests for reasonable accommodations from users who may be impacted by third-party accessibility barriers and other exceptions.
Accessible Format Requests
Organizations must ensure that upon request, they provide accessible formats or communication supports for individuals with disabilities. This applies to publicly available information on the website.
Live Captioning and Audio Description
For pre-recorded videos on the website, organizations must provide closed captioning and audio description, or provide a transcript.