Public Sector, Private-sector and not-for-profit organizations in Ontario should turn their minds to their obligations under Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (the “AODA”), which have two approaching deadlines.
AODA provides for deadlines and compliance objectives based upon size and type of organizations with the aim of identifying, removing and preventing barriers for people with disabilities, with the goal of achieving accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities on or before January 1, 2025.
Firstly, public sector organizations as well as businesses or non-profit organizations with 20 or more employees, who were previously obligated to complete their accessibility compliance report by December 31, 2020, have had the deadline now extended to June 30, 2021. The compliance report, which confirms that the organization has met their accessibility requirements under AODA, as well as further details and instruction on completing the report, can be found here.
Secondly, large private-sector and not-for-profit organizations in Ontario with 50+ employees are required to make all of their websites and web content accessible and in conformance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards by January 1, 2021. After this date, all web content posted after January 1, 2012 will have to comply with the WCAG standards, which can be found here, except for the live caption criteria (1.2.4) and pre-recorded audio description criteria (1.2.5). The WCAG standard allows web content to be accessible to users with disabilities and is based upon a graduated standard. Prior to January 1, 2021, such organizations only need to comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A.
Large organizations that otherwise would have been required to meet WCAG Standards compliance may be exempt if the organization determines that meeting such requirement is “not practicable” in accordance with the Accessibility Standards. Furthermore, intranet websites are not required to be in compliance with the WCAG Standards by the January 1, 2021 deadline.
Organizations required to complete compliance reporting or adhere to WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards should ensure that sufficient time is provided to comply with their obligations under the AODA.