The internet is a resource that’s growing exponentially in importance. For individuals with disabilities, websites need to be accessible so that they have access to the same resources. Let’s work to convert your site into an accessible one.
Why Is Website Accessibility Important?
Who doesn’t use the internet nowadays?
We depend on it for so many things in life, from education and employment to health care and shopping. It’s our #1 go-to resource.
But this becomes a growing problem for those with disabilities. In order to break down these barriers that prevent disabled individuals from accessing the same online resources we have, those online resources need to be made accessible.
At CryoDragon, we have the knowledge and expertise to convert websites into accessible ones. Read on below to find out whether your business will need to comply with the new accessibility laws, and what the difference is between different levels of accessibility.
Web Accessibility Compliance may be Mandatory for Your Business
By 2021, your website and web content may need to comply with the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.0 Level AA criteria with the exception of live captions and pre-recorded audio descriptions. This is in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), which requires public websites to be accessible, by law, if you meet either of the following criteria:
- If you are a private or non-profit organization with over 50 employees; or
- If you are a public sector organization
The WCAG 2.0 was created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) as an internationally-accepted standard for web accessibility. Each of the guidelines comes with three levels of accessibility: A, AA, and AAA.
At CryoDragon, we understand the need to make websites accessible, and we have in-depth knowledge of how to do so for both existing and new websites. We start off with a preliminary accessibility audit to see where improvements need to be made, and then propose a plan to help you implement accessibility throughout your site.
Different Levels of Website Accessibility
Required Since 2014
Non-text content requires text alternatives
Pre-recorded captions and audio descriptions
Correct reading sequences and simpler layout options
Use of colour and audio control
Keyboard functionality with no keyboard trap
Adjustable time limits with pause, stop and hide functionality
Less than three flashes (for seizure prevention)
Proper page titles and focus order
Bypass blocks and link purpose with context
Specify page language
Predictable on focus and on input web pages
Error notifications and clear labels/instructions for input
Proper parsing and programming structure
Proper names, roles and values
Required By 2021
(Includes All of Level A)
Live captions for live audio content
Prerecorded audio descriptions for pre-recorded media
Minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1
Text resizing options
Text instead of images of text
Multiple methods of navigation
Proper headings and labels
Recognize language of web page parts
Consistent navigation and identification
Error suggestion and prevention for inputting data
Not Required Yet
(Includes All of Level AA)
Prerecorded sign language for audio and media
Prerecorded extended audio descriptions
Prerecorded media alternatives
Live audio for time-based media
Enhanced contrast of > 7:1
Low or no background audio
Visual presentation adjustment
No images of text
All functionality operable through keyboard
No timing or interruptions for reading and using content, even after re-authentication
Less than three flashes in a second
Breadcrumbs, link purpose and section headings
Identify unusual words, abbreviations and pronunciations
Simplified reading level option
Change of context initiated by user request
Context-sensitive help to be available
All types of error prevention for submission of information
Picking the Right Level of Accessibility
There’s a lot of work to do when you’re trying to make your website accessible. The higher the level of accessibility, the more work is required. If you are a business that has to comply with the AODA and web accessibility guidelines set forth in your province, they will tell you which level to go for.
For Ontario businesses and non-profits with over 50 employees or any public sector organization, all websites must be accessible and meet the standards of Level AA web accessibility by 2021. More details are available on the Ontario Web Accessibility website.
At CryoDragon, we take a very personalized approach to web accessibility. We work with you to figure out what changes you need to make to your website by doing a preliminary audit, and then implement those changes through a phased solution.
FAQs About Web Accessibility
Good question. The first thing to note is that there is a difference between who comes up with the standards for web accessibility and who chooses which of those standards to enforce.
The laws and standards for web accessibility are governed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The W3C is an international community where organizations, staff and the public work together to develop web standards. Who leads it? Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the World Wide Web itself back in 1989. They started the Web Accessibility Initiative to help make the Web even more universal, and in the process developed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This is where the different levels of accessibility (A, AA, AAA) are defined.
Depending on where you live, the government may enforce different levels of website accessibility compliance. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) became law in 2005, with the goal of making all websites accessible, under the standards set forth by WCAG 2.0 Level AA, by 2021. Failure to meet these criteria would result in financial penalties.
If you are a business that has to adhere to Level AA by law, then that’s the one you should go for. However, there are merits to going straight for the ultimate compliance (Level AAA), since you’ll be ready for the day when it becomes the norm.
If you are a business that does not have to comply, then starting off with Level A or AA would be good choices in case you ever grow or need to make the switch to an accessible website in the future.
No matter which option you choose, we can tell you that it is more cost effective for organizations to aim towards a higher level of compliance when first thinking about accessibility. Doing an accessibility project one time will be much less time-consuming and expensive than redoing it again and again down the road.
For those of us without disabilities, it may be difficult to notice whether a website is accessible or not. However, if you know where to look, you’ll be able to find out whether your website is complying with each of the standards set forth by the WCAG 2.0. For example, for Level AA compliance, it states that there should not be any images of texts. If you have an image in your website that has text in it, then you will need to make modifications to your site to comply with Level AA.
There are also some online tools that you can use to check for web accessibility. These provide quick summaries of what accessibility issues you may have in your website. Some examples are AChecker and WAVE.
At CryoDragon, we can also help you convert your documents to accessible documents and PDF files. Some characteristics of accessible documents include larger fonts, higher contrast, well-organized and structured templates, tagging, and convertibility to Braille or e-readers. If you have forms or any type of documentation that needs to be accessible, contact our team to let us know what you need.
When our team works on a web accessibility project, the first thing we do is analyze the website and test it to see whether it meets existing accessibility standards. We have a list of criteria to test for, and use different tools to analyze your website’s accessibility.
Once we have a full understanding of where your website is at, we would propose and implement various modifications to your site to help you comply with any failed standards.