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Understanding the various guidelines published by the Federal Government of Canada about Web Accessibility Standards can be confusing to say the least. The Government of Canada has taken many steps to address Web accessibility starting back in 1998, when it published an Internet guide that provided information on common resources, along with tools and tips on design. In 2008, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international community that develops Web standards, released WCAG 2.0, which provided new Web accessibility guidelines –the Government of Canada moved towards adopting these standards; the government’s Standard on Web Accessibility was born! The standard outlines how the various departments must design, manage and review public domain websites and applications.
Some of these steps are listed below:
- Remove the redundant, outdated and trivial (ROT) content from websites and Web applications.
- Archive Web pages where appropriate.
- Add an Accessibility Notice.
- Use the Web Experience Toolkit (WET) which Conforms to WAG.
- Build Web pages using a progressive enhancement approach.
- Use HTML5 markup language.
- Use Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0.
Use UTF-8 character encoding.
- Use CSS-based layouts Instead of table-based layouts.
- Warn users in advance about changes in link behaviour.
- Test Web pages with different browsers.
- Clearly identify videos for exclusive reuse by media for broadcast purposes.
Looking at the provincial levels, Ontario is ahead of the pack in accessibility. In 2005, Ontario amended its Ontarians with Disabilities Act by enacting the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Later amendments put some bite into the regulations with fines for non-compliance.
Table of AODA Deadlines are public or private sector dependent and further broken down by level of government (for public) and number employees for business and non-profits.
For the Government of Ontario and the Legislative Assembly, January 1, 2012.
For large designated public sector organizations, January 1, 2013.
For smaller designated public sector organizations, January 1, 2014.
The items that ALL businesses and non-profit should have already completed include the following:
- Provide accessible customer service.
- Provide accessible emergency and public safety information.
- Provide staff with disabilities emergency information.
- Create accessibility policies.
- Train your staff on Ontario’s accessibility laws.
- Make it easy for people with disabilities to provide feedback when asked.
Coming up in 2016, 2017 and 2018 include the following:
- Make your public information accessible when asked.
- Make your employment practices accessible.
- Make new or redeveloped public spaces accessible.
At the end of 2017, Larger organizations (50+ employees) will be required to file an Accessibility Compliance Report to the Ontario government detailing how the organization is meeting the goals.
The bottom line is that based on the global accessibility trends, all Canadian organizations should look to get ahead of the legislation by making sites compliant with WCAG 2 AA from now.
Language Marketplace can ensure all your translated documents meet the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities) requirements and ADA (American Disability Act), as per WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative).