AODA Act of Ontario - W3C WCAG 2.0 Accessibility Compliance

AODA Act: As a pre-election political move and cash grab the Ontario Liberal Government has implemented the AODA Act. This is making it mandatory that all Ontario businesses with more than one employee must present their vital web information in a format that is WCAG 2.0 Accessibility Compliant for the Visually and Hearing Impaired by 2016 and 100% of their web presence compliant by 2022. Click Here for a (Adobe .pdf) of the government's description.

Development for the Visually Impaired: From a technical point of view making a website compliant for the visually impaired is easy but very time consuming, which means triple the cost. There are certain code variations and additional features to be added to the pages but the main difference is the photo descriptions. The idea is visually impaired people can map out the page with a brail keyboard and have their keyboard give them a complete description of every picture and every graphic on the website. This includes all artwork, buttons, spacers etc…etc…

Every graphic in the whole website needs what is called an Alt Tag. An Alt Tag is a line of code added to the code that displays a picture. Let's say you have a picture of a man in a boat holding a big fish. The web designer needs to add a complete description of the picture. The description needs to be 150 characters minimum. Below is an example:

Development for the Hearing Impaired: Basically this means that all videos need Closed Caption. So if a fishing lodge videoed a customer catching a fish they would need to send that video to a production company. The production company would have to hire someone that knows American Sign Language. The production company would need to film this sign language person converting all spoken words into sign. Then they need to add the sign film to the corner of the fishing video. A five minute video would cost $1000s to make compliant, which 95% of Ontario businesses cannot afford.

Being Realistic: This is another tax grab, which will manifest itself as fines for failure to comply with the new laws. Realistically, 95% of businesses in Ontario cannot afford to have their websites redesigned. The government knows this, which will give them the ability to give out $billions in fines. The Liberal government will not stand up to the public service unions and their ridiculous salaries because that's where all their political donations and votes come from. They already have a complete monopoly on human misery and addiction (alcohol, tobacco and gambling) and still Ontario's dept keeps growing out of control. They came up with this because they can dress it up as a humanitarian effort.

Imagine a small family-owned fishing lodge in Northern Ontario. They have a good business because they have 3000 fishing photos on their website. Now the lodge has a choice. They can take all the photos off their website and lose all their business or pay a web designer $50 to $75 per hour to add Alt Tags and detailed descriptions to 3000 photos. They are trapped in bureaucratic quicksand. The lodge can delete photos and lose business, pay big fines or pay big bucks to have their website updated.

How to get around this: It is nice to have a website that is compliant because everybody is concerned for people with physical challenges. Just like the gun registry this legislation will be squashed or greatly redesigned when the people of Ontario start to complain. Until then a very cost-effective alternative is available. Many of the procedures used to make a Mobile Website are the same as a WCAG website. Because a Mobile website is a small version of your main website and only containing quick breakdowns, limited photos and critical information, there is not much work to make it WCAG. It's killing two birds with one stone if you don't already have a mobile website.

Below are two examples of WCAG 2.0 Compliant Mobile Websites.

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