AODA and WCAG Accessibility Compliance


Introduction to web users with disabilities


There are millions of web users that include people with disabilities, special needs, and impairments. Disability is as diverse as the web users responding to their respective internet ecosystems. People with disabilities, like everyone else, need access to mainstream services like the internet.

According to a World Health Organization report, over a billion people live with some diverse forms of disability, corresponding to 15% of the global population.

Here are some commonly observed categories of people with disabilities and impairments that affect their use of websites.


What are Accessibility Standards for web applications?


Providing accessibility democratizes the use of mainstream services like the internet. Although accessibility is always framed concerning people with disabilities, this practice enables sites to be more user-friendly, abled, or otherwise. This is why Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) exist.

WCAG covers a broad spectrum of recommendations to make web content accessible. These guidelines make content accessible to everyone. These guidelines are meant for web content and are used authoring tools, developers, and Accessibility Testing Toolkits.

Here’s an overview of the accessibility standards implemented under WCAG:

WCAG has a rating system under its guidelines. There are three levels which are A, AA, and AAA.


Importance of being compliant with Accessibility Guidelines


WCAG is a series of web accessibility recommendations published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) – the international standards organization that regulates accessibility of the internet. 

Here’s why these guidelines are essential. 


“AODA Regulations in Ontario” and WCAG standards


The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was introduced on June 13, 2005, to identify and address barriers that might prevent people with disabilities get access to the identifiable sectors in Ontario. 

The act applies to all governmental, private, and nonprofit organizations in Ontario with one or more employees, full-time or otherwise. 

Five standards constitute the AODA

  1. 1) Customer Service Standard
  2. 2) Information and Communication Standard
  3. 3) Employment Standard
  4. 4) Transportation Standard
  5. 5) Design of Public Spaces Standard

One important area that comes under AODA is website compliance since these standards are applied to digital accessibility and web content (Part 2: Information and Communication Standard). 


Websites and web applications mandates to meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA criteria


Under the AODA requirements, websites must comply with WCAG 2.0, which is an international standard set to make sure that websites are fully accessible. 

There are different levels to WCAG 2.0 compliance, depending on a website’s accessibility level – A, AA, AAA. Currently, the websites and web applications must comply with level A, subsequently meeting most of the level AA criteria. 

In Canada, over $50 billion in buying power is represented by people with disabilities. In Ontario alone, there are 2.6 billion people with disabilities, which is 24% of its population. So, this compliance makes it advantageous for businesses to make more accessible products. 


How to become compliant with WCAG 2.0 Level AA?


Here’s a quick checklist to know if a website is meeting the AODA compliance requirements. 

To ensure that websites comply with AODA or WCAG 2.0, online test kits can be used. AODA Compliance Wizard, for instance, is a native tool that gives organizations an exhaustive list of requirements based on their type and workforce.


Website Mandates to be compliant with Accessibility Standards


Here are some of the standards that websites need to comply with.  

Semantic HTML



What is Accessibility Testing?


Accessibility testing helps assess whether a website or its application is usable and accessible to people with disabilities. 

These toolkits work with assistive technologies like screen readers, screen magnifiers, and speech recognition software, addressing any functions that can potentially hinder the accessibility of a website. 

Following are the elements that ATs evaluate: 

There are several accessibility testing tools available. Google’s Lighthouse is one ATs that is easy to use and free-to-use. 


Introduction to Lighthouse Tool


Lighthouse is an automated, open-source, Chrome built-in AT tool that is a part of the Chrome Developer Tools suite. The app will run a series of audits against web pages, generating reports on how well the page performs, accessibility, SEO, and progressive web apps. 

To get started with Lighthouse, Google Chrome needs to be installed. Then visit the URL that requires auditing, followed by the Audits tab and selecting Perform an audit which will take about 30 to 60 seconds for the application to generate a report of that page. 


Using WAVE to audit websites (


WAVE is yet another web accessibility evaluation tool, available as an extension to the Chrome browser. This tool also evaluates pages using JavaScript. WAVE checks if the web page is complying with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. 


Using W3C Validator


W3C offers Markup Validator, which is a free service used for checking the validity of web documents. Validating web documents is an unmissable step in creating cohesive and more accessible web pages. 

Web documents are typically written in a markup language like HTML defined by specifications like machine-readable grammar and vocabulary. W3C validators check documents and see if they meet the technical requirements or recommendations by the W3C. 


Introduction to JAWS Screen Reading


According to WHO’s estimation, a report reads that 285 million people are visually impaired globally. So, that’s a sizable number of people, as big as the American population, which can’t be ignored. 

Visual impairment includes blindness, color blindness, and low-level vision. Most of them use screen magnifiers, screen readers, or software zoom magnifiers. 

JAWS or Job Access With Speech uses Braille and speech output for popular PC software applications. It can be used for writing documents, reading emails, creating presentations, or navigating the internet, irrespective of usage location. 

Tools like JAWS are known as assistive technologies or ATs. 

Dolphin Screen Reader similarly is an AT, a robust and customizable screen reading software to help users with visual impairments access modern software via human-sounding speech and Braille output. 


Introduction to VoiceOver tool 


VoiceOver is an AT designed for apple computers. It functions the best when used with the Safari web browser along with other native OS X applications. VoiceOver converts text to speech and understands ARIA, making it dynamically communicate names, roles, properties of JavaScript widgets to users with visual disabilities. 




Democratizing access is fundamental to using the internet. International bodies like WCAG and W3C are responsibly ensuring that these accessibility standards are met for people with disabilities using their respective interweb ecosystem.