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Barrier-free: How Does Canada Deal With Website Accessibility?

Barrier-free: How Does Canada Deal With Website Accessibility?

Vallery Henings

May 21, 2020 (modified on May 22, 2020)

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Over 22 percent of Canada’s adult population, more than six million people, identify as a person with disabilities. Despite their large number, people with disabilities often face barriers when it comes to participating fully in Canadian society.

Website accessibility can be a major issue for people with disabilities in Canada. It’s important to create barrier-free websites so that everyone can enjoy your content, regardless of a person’s ability. Why is it important to make your website barrier-free? And how do you make sure your website is following the compliance rules for accessibility? Let’s go through and find out!

What Are the Compliance Rules for Your Site in Canada?

On a federal level, the Accessible Canada Act: An Act to Ensure a Barrier-free Canada governs what needs to be done to make websites accessible for people with disabilities. The Act aims to lay out a plan for creating more accessibility in Canadian society in the near future. In the meantime, these rules are mostly governed by provincial legislation.

 

Canadian Flag

Provincial Legislation

As mentioned, some provinces require some websites to be accessible to people with disabilities. In Ontario, AODA (the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) requires some organizations to follow specific rules to make sure that their websites are accessible. These rules apply to all public organizations. They also apply to all non-profit or private organizations that have over 50 employees.

The websites from these companies must meet guidelines created by the World Wide Web Consortium to make sure they are accessible. These guidelines are pretty easy to meet. So, even if you are not a company governed by the AODA rules its a good idea to make sure that your website is accessible for people with disabilities.

That’s especially true if you are already revamping your website or creating a whole new one. If you’re already doing a redesign, there’s no real excuse to not make sure that your website is barrier-free.

What Can You Do to Make Sure Your Website Is Barrier-Free?

There are actually a lot of different steps you can take to make sure your website is barrier-free for people with disabilities.

It’s also really important to keep in mind that people with disabilities aren’t one single monolith. Different disabilities require different changes to be made, so it’s a good idea to be careful and make sure you’re covering as many different things as possible.

There are some easy (and major) ways that you can institute more accessible policies on your website sooner than later.

For example, giving the visitors of your website the ability to pause autoplay videos is a really easy way to make your website more accessible. Another thing you could do is include an option to resize text, for people with vision problems. You should also make sure that any forms you have on your website are usable by people with disabilities.

But these are just a few of the actions you can take. Let’s go a bit deeper into how you can make your website barrier-free so that it’s easy to use for people with disabilities.

Formatting For Accommodations

Many people with disabilities use programs to help them access websites. For example, visually impaired people can use a screen reader application to get information from websites. That’s why it’s important that these applications can properly process the information that is on your site.

Fonts

Fonts

There are simple ways you can help with accessibility on your website. The first of those involves the formatting and the color of fonts. In your site’s design use only one or two fonts, and make sure that the colours of the background and the font contrast enough to be readable.

Try not to embed text in graphics, and make sure that the text is also available in another format so that it can be processed by reader apps. You should also make sure that section headers are clearly formatted for people with visual impairments.

Make Your Multimedia Accessible

If your website includes video content, it’s really important to make sure that the content is accessible.

Along with adding the option to turn on autoplay, there are a couple of other ways you can make sure your video content is accessible. Transcription options, closed-captioning, and descriptions are all easy ways to make your video content accessible to people with disabilities.

Many video hosting websites, like YouTube, offer at least some of these features in their design, so it’s easier than you may think to offer accessible video coon your website. It may be time-consuming to transcribe a video or to make sure that captions are correct, but it can really make a difference for people with disabilities.

Keyboard Friendly Websites

Keyboard keys

One important aspect of making your website barrier-free for people with disabilities is making sure that your website is keyboard friendly. Making your site keyboard friendly means that it can be operated without a mouse. You may have to do some experimenting and troubleshooting to pull it off, but it’s a very important part of making sure your website is barrier-free.

Image Accessibility

You know when you’re watching television, and you see there is a program that comes with a description of the video? You could also offer this feature for images on your website. How? Well, you can add a description in the HTML code of your images so that screen readers are able to describe the images on your site to people who use screen reader applications.

Barrier-Free Websites Are Easier to Create Than You Might Think

Making sure that your website is accessible to people with disabilities shouldn’t just be a legal obligation. People with disabilities need access to websites as well, so it’s important to make sure they have that access.

On top of all that, it’s really not difficult to accommodate what they need. Just do your research, listen to the needs of the community, and soon your website will be barrier-free.

Looking for more articles on related topics? Check out some of our other blogs!