Penalties for non-compliance with web content accessibility guidelines in Ontario

To the list of guidelines, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) that is a fragment of the web user-friendliness guideline available through the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), we in Ontario (Canada), also need to add the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). 

/DRAFT ONLY/

AODA comes with many compliance requirements that apply to websites created by Ontario organizations with 20 or more employees. By the end of 2017, all organizations with 20+ employees will need to file an online compliance report with the government confirming their continued compliance with the AODA.

AODA accessibility act was created to ensure that all new Internet websites and web content on those sites conform to World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A, except where meeting the requirement is not practicable.

I spent quite a while reading the act; it’s available at: http://www.aoda.ca if anyone wants to look at it. The checklist for compliance is long and fairly open to interpretation.

The part that is interesting is listed on AODA government-sponsored website https://accessontario.com/aoda/ under the penalties for AODA non-compliance.

Please read this excerpt, so you better understand how scary is the outlook of non-compliance to any mid-large corporation located in Ontario (AODA Services, 2016), that won’t be able to legally claim exempt from AODA:

  • A company/organization that is guilty can be fined up to $100,000 per day
  • Directors and officers of a corporation/organization that is guilty can be fined up to $50,000 per day

In any case, AODA will come to full effect in 8 years from now, by Jan 1st, 2025. By then we’ll have fully Accessible Ontario!

The question is, will Ontario be compliant by then?

Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, Mr. Brad Duguid certainly think so, in fact, he claims we should go beyond AODA goal. In his 2014 statement he said, I quote: “to truly be successful in achieving our goal; we need to reach higher, to go beyond the requirements of the AODA and its standards. We need to integrate accessibility into everything we do until it becomes second nature. Working together, we’ll arrive at the destination we set out for 10 years ago: an accessible Ontario by 2025.” (Duguid, B., 2014).

 

References:

Guide to the accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities act (2016) Available at: https://www.aoda.ca/guide-to-the-act/ (Accessed: 10 November 2016).

AODA compliance checklist (2014) Available at: https://www.osler.com/uploadedfiles/AODA-Compliance-Checklist.pdf (Accessed: 10 November 2016).

AODA Services (2016) Questions & answers. Available at: https://accessontario.com/aoda/ (Accessed: 10 November 2016).

Duguid, B. (2014) AODA – A message from the minister. Available at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/path-2025-ontarios-accessibility-action-plan#section-0 (Accessed: 10 November 2016).

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