What Is Web Accessibility?
Web accessibility for your website refers to how easy it is to navigate by users with disabilities on the motor, auditory, visual, or cognitive level. Making your website accessible will soon become a mandate rather than simply a desired standard.
By January 1, 2021, Canadian businesses must meet web accessibility laws taking effect and impacting websites across Canada. Businesses can partner with web development leaders, such as WSI eStrategies, well-versed in the new requirements for major changes they make following that date.
According to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), if your business has at least 20 employees, you have to perform and report the results of an internal compliance audit before this date. For businesses in Ontario, there are two criteria coming on board with the web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG 2.0) Level AA changes:
- Live Captions (criteria 1.2.4)
- Audio descriptions (criteria 1.2.5)
What is the World Accessibility Map?
The Accessibility World Map compares sites originating in different countries. The results are broken down by industry and country, and you can compare how different regions rank. The interactive site is easy to use and helps visitors find and create accessible online information.
Failure to meet these standards could result in lawsuits from the impacted parties.
How Canadian Companies Fare
Canada has an overall score of 64 out of 100 using the world accessibility map as a measure. There is plenty of room for improvement, with tourism, hospital, and retail sites ranking the lowest (60) and healthcare organizations ranking the highest (68). Government and education sites also rank highly.
Website Development Considerations for WCAG in Canada
If you plan to build a new or refreshed website in the near future, the new WCAG rules apply to you. Start by testing your existing site as a baseline. Use the results to guide your web development team. You can use a website accessibility checker to uncover accessibility issues on your existing and new site.
Here are some useful web development tips to ensure your new or refreshed website meets the new standards:
- Automatic testing and assistive technology. Review your site using a screen reader and other assistive technology to make sure it’s accessible.
- User testing. Whenever possible, choose users with disabilities to assess the site and drive improvements prior to launch.
- Review key milestones. Document accessibility issues and efforts made to address them. If you’re using digital marketing consultants, they should be able to do this for you. If you receive a complaint or request in the future, these records will show your efforts to increase accessibility.
The WCAG outlines four areas to concentrate on for website accessibility:
- All users should be able to read or access information on the website, including those with visual impairments.
- Make your website easy to navigate across multiple devices and browsers.
- Websites should have intuitive organization and use language that customers with cognitive impairments and other disabilities can understand.
- Websites should support assistive technology tools for those with disabilities.
Do you need help assessing your website’s WCAG preparedness? Discuss your short-term and long-term goals for future website development to ensure compliance and avoid a lawsuit. Contact WSI eStrategies in Ottawa to access a deep and talented pool of web development experts familiar with the new rules.