Accessible Websites Required for 2021
While many of Ontario’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) compliance deadlines seemed to be far in the future when they were first announced, many of them have come and gone, and more are coming.
Particularly timely with so many of us working, shopping and generally living online is the obligation to make websites accessible. That is set to be in force on the first day of 2021 for private and non-profit organizations with fifty or more employees, as well as all public-sector organizations.
Specifically, this requirement means that all public websites and web content posted after January 1, 2012 must meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA other than criteria 1.2.4 (live captions) and 1.2.5 (pre-recorded audio descriptions).
For guidance on how to make your website and web content accessible so as be compliant, check out this guide.
Compliance Reports due December 31, 2020 June 30, 2021
Business owners are understandably focussed on many issues other than Ontario’s AODA. Many are struggling to stay afloat and have put all non-essential projects on hold, and will be glad to learn that the deadline to file the 2020 Accessibility Compliance Report, which was the end of this year, has been deferred to the end of June 2021.
The Accessibility Compliance Report is mandatory and confirms that an organization has met its accessibility requirements under the AODA. For more guidance on how to complete it, check out this guide provided by the government. You can download the form here.
The report is required for businesses or non-profit organizations with 20 or more employees, as well as designated public-sector organizations. Ignoring this requirement is risky, as failure to file the report on time can result in financial penalties.
Note that if your circumstances change, you are expected to update your profile. According to the guidelines, if you have a change in:
- Primary contact information
- Number of employees
- Status (for example is no longer in business or has fewer than 20 employees)
You can use this form to update your organization’s profile.
Make sure that you are aware of your obligations pursuant to the AODA. While much of the world is focussed on COVID-19 related issues at the moment, failure to comply will not go unnoticed forever, and penalties will be imposed.
Feel free to reach out to us if you would like help understanding and complying with your legal obligations. I also want to mention that one of the things that we do for clients is prepare and provide them with a detailed explanation of their legal obligations, including policies, training and posting requirements. This is specific to their organization, based upon factors including their industry and size. It can be done independently or as part of one of our Starter Packages, which include contract templates, policy handbooks, guides to Employment Law and more.