#Module 2: AODA

Why AODA?

So, let’s start with: What is AODA? Well, AODA stands for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The purpose of this act is to provide a more accessible online world for people with disabilities that may not be directly visible. Not someone in a wheelchair, but someone who is visually impaired, someone who may be hard of hearing, someone with a learning disability, someone with a developmental disability, the list goes on.

Currently, Ontario has plans for this act to be enforced and for the goal to be reached in just over 8 years. Although it seems like there is quite a bit of time before anything needs to be done, there is also quite a bit that needs to be fixed.

The focus of this blog post will be on internet accessibility and some of the guidelines that should be followed.

First, let’s begin with what the AODA considers a disability. The act currently follows the definition provided by the Ontario Human Rights Code. This would include physical disabilities as well as mental disabilities, such as brain injuries, speech impediment, or dyslexia to name a few. This act can even apply to users who have English as a second language. By using the standard established by the AODA, it allows organizations to remove the barrier between the user and the website. The regulations and standards apply to organizations that provide a service or product, employ Ontarians, or provide accommodation. Fines for an organization’s offences can go up to $100,000 for each day.

One of the biggest barriers we currently face is a language barrier. This is not only experienced online, but also in person. In order to reduce this barrier while online, providing a translation tool, whether through Google, or another program, would close the gap that we face when interacting with people speaking other languages. The use of Google Translate provides users with an option to translate the entire webpage for ease of access.

Another barrier that is faced when online is caused by a person’s sight. It could be a visual impairment or even the decrease of eyesight as a person ages. This problem could be remedied through providing the ability to increase or decrease the text size on a web page to provide users with the option to view the text on screen at a comfortable font size.

These are only a couple of solutions to help with online accessibility. There are still many improvements to be made before Ontario becomes truly accessible on the online world. We can start with these, then continue to the other issues. For example, the contrast between text and background plays an important part in accessibility and visibility, providing a caption for images on a webpage assists with the barrier too. There are endless ways to make the online world more accessible and friendly for someone with a disability. So let’s get started!

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