AODA Guidelines to Know in 2021
As of January 1st of this year, many companies faced a deadline to make sure that their businesses comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, also known as AODA. Accessibility is something that each and every business should not only take into consideration, but implement legitimate measures to achieve. Obviously, we’re familiar with brick and mortar stores requiring wheelchair accessibility, but a surprising amount of people don’t realize that the digital world can also be inaccessible to many people. Read on to find out some of the top AODA guidelines to know in 2021:
1. Provide alt text.
Alt text, or ‘alternative text’, are lines of code within the html of an image that provide a description and function for visually impaired users. This coding allows for screen reader programs to read the description of the image for the user, making sure that they don’t miss out on any features of the website. Alt text can also appear in place of the image, just in case the image itself isn’t loading. While it is best to make your alt text descriptive enough so the user grasps the idea of the image, it’s also important not to overload it with keywords. While it does help with SEO, too many keywords is really just spammy. And annoying. Especially to those who actually need alt text for accessibility.
2. Give proper context in your hyperlinks.
This is one that may seem like a non-issue to some, but to many it can actually make a big difference. You know when you have a sentence that says, for example, “Click here to read about AODA guidelines”, and you hyperlink the words ‘click here’? According to the AODA guidelines, that isn’t enough. To put it simply, the hyperlinked text needs to be descriptive enough to explain where the link is taking you. So, in this example, the words ‘AODA Guidelines’ should be linked. Again, this makes screen readers a lot more helpful for the user. Screen readers can often read only the hyperlinked text, while skipping the text around it, so it’s important that the hyperlinked text makes sense as a standalone phrase.
3. Make sure your website has good colour contrast.
While websites with poor colour contrast can be visually terrible, they pose a much larger challenge for many people. Poor colour contrast can make your website very difficult to read and navigate. A contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for regular text, and 3:1 for larger text is ideal, as it ensures that the text is legible against whatever shade or design of background your website uses.
4. Ensure that the text is resizable, without losing site functionality.
It’s important to make sure that the text on your website can be resized up to 200%, to assist people with visual impairments. Not only does it need to be resizable though, you need to make sure that the resizing doesn’t remove any of the website’s content or functionality. Additionally, users should not have to use assistive technology in order to resize the page – it should be easy enough to do directly on the page itself.
5. Optimize your content’s readability.
How many times have you tried to find information about a topic, only to be hit with walls of text that uses complicated words you thought people stopped using a thousand years ago? For us, it’s way more often than we would like. Now, imagine what it’s like for people with reading and learning disabilities. It would make these sites entirely inaccessible for them, which is why it’s important to make your site’s content as readable as possible. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to do this! You can:
- Use clear and concise language
- Keep your sentences short
- Include bullet points wherever is relevant
- Avoid using text that fully stretches to both left and right margins
- Use images and video to help explain your point
6. Make sure to caption your audio and video.
Speaking of using video, you need to make sure that all of your audio and video has captions! It’s important to keep in mind that people who access your site may be hard of hearing, so you need to make sure that any audio and video files are accessible to them, as well. While there are lots of resources online that provide more in-depth information to captioning your audio and video, one thing that you should remember is that it’s not just spoken words that need to be captioned. Any relevant sound effects or noises need to be captioned as well, so that the person using the captions is able to get the full context of what’s happening. Plus, the captions can be picked up by search engines, which is a big help as far as SEO goes!
Some of these points may be things that you’re already doing on your site, which is awesome! Others might be things you had never even thought of before, which is fine too. Not everybody is in a position where they have to think about these things to get through daily life. The important thing here though, is that you learn, and you take the steps to make your website accessible to everyone who may be using it. Life is all about growth! Keep in mind that this list is definitely not exhaustive. You can view a full list of AODA guidelines here!
Have questions or suggestions? We’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below or send us a message!