In 2001, after years of lobbying by advocacy groups, the provincial government passed the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which required workplaces and websites to remove barriers to participation by individuals with disabilities. It was a big step forward, but it was still very limited because it only applied to government ministries. It also didn’t have any enforcement guidelines, penalties, or compliance requirements, so it was clear that the law needed to be updated almost as soon as it was ratified.
AODA is the follow-up to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It improved existing accessibility policy, laying out clear rules, deadlines, enforcement systems, and penalties, and an infrastructure that could keep accessibility policy up to date. Among other things, AODA codified standards for web accessibility.
• Software or programming tools that aren’t compatible with accessibility mechanisms and were used to make certain site features.
• Web content posted before 2012. If that content is updated, then AODA rules will apply.
• Websites have to reach WCAG 2.0 Level AA (other than criteria 1.2.4 (live captions) and 1.2.5 (pre-recorded audio descriptions), by January 2st, 2021
AODA also set up the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council to advise the Ontario government about future accessibility policy. The council can recommend reforms and updates to the accessibility requirements laid out in AODA, so it’s important for Ontario business owners and website managers to stay up to date with changes to the accessibility standards.