The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 ("AODA") is a legislative framework that aims to develop, implement and enforce accessibility standards "in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025".
Compliance Report - Deadline Extended to June 30, 2021
As mentioned in our previous blog, private-sector and not-for-profit organizations in Ontario with 20+ employees were previously required to submit an AODA compliance report by December 31, 2020. However, the Ontario government recently extended the foregoing AODA compliance report submission deadline for such organizations to June 30, 2021.1 Further details on how organization can complete and submit the accessibility report can be found here.
WCAG 2.0 Level AA Requirements – Deadline Remains January 1, 2021
It is worth noting that the Ontario government's extension to the AODA compliance report submission deadline does not affect the upcoming web compliance deadline of January 1, 2021.
Specifically, the Integrated Accessibility Standards regulation created under the AODA (the "Accessibility Standards"), requires that large private-sector and not-for-profit organizations in Ontario with 50+ employees ("Applicable Large Organizations") make all of their "internet websites and web content"2 accessible in conformance with the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards3 (the "WCAG Standards") by January 1, 2021.4 Prior to this deadline, such organizations are required to ensure that "new" internet websites and web content met the WCAG 2.0 Level A standards.
Notably, Applicable Large Organizations may be exempt from making their internet websites and web content compliant with the WCAG Standards if any such organizations determines that meeting such requirement is "not practicable" in accordance with the Accessibility Standards. Further, the Accessibility Standards do not explicitly require Applicable Large Organizations to make their "intranet websites"5 (as such term is defined in the Accessibility Standards) compliant with the WCAG Standards under the Accessibility Standards by January 1, 2021.
Further details on how Applicable Large Organizations can make their internet websites accessible can be found here.
Implications of Extension and WCAG Requirements
While the extension on the compliance reporting deadline has granted a period of reprieve for impacted businesses, such businesses should use that time to ensure that they will be able to certify full compliance with AODA requirements in July 2021.
In particular, given the extension of time, it is highly likely that the compliance report will include a requirement to certify compliance with the impending WCAG Standards deadlines. Given that achieving web-related compliance can often require significant planning and work, businesses who have not yet turned their minds to this project are recommended to do so as soon as possible, as January 1, 2021 will be here before we know it. .
If you have any questions on AODA or the WCAG Standards, please contact the authors. For more information about our firm's expertise on the subject matter covered under this blog, please visit our Labour & Employment group's page and our Technology group's page.
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1 The foregoing extension does not apply to public-sector organizations, whose next accessibility compliance report continues to be due December 31, 2021.
2 The term "internet website" is defined under the Accessibility Standards as "a collection of related web pages, images, videos or other digital assets that are addressed relative to a common Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) and is accessible to the public", but provides no explicit definition for "web content".
3 Under the Accessibility Standards, Applicable Large Organizations will not be required to make their internet websites and web content accessible in compliance with success criteria 1.2.4 (Captions (Live)) and 1.2.5 (Audio Descriptions (Pre-recorded))) under the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards.
4 Pursuant to the Accessibility Standards, public-sector organizations were required to make all of their internet websites, web content and intranet websites accessible in conformance with the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards (other than success criteria 1.2.4 (Captions (Live)) and 1.2.5 (Audio Descriptions (Pre-recorded))) by January 1, 2020.
5 The term "intranet website" is defined under the Accessibility Standards as "an organization's internal website that is used to privately and securely share any part of the organization's information or operational systems within the organization and includes extranet websites" (the term "extranet website" is also defined under the Accessibility Standards as "a controlled extension of the intranet, or internal network of an organization to outside users over the Internet").
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