3 Reasons for Ontario Organizations to make the move to an Accessible Website

For many Ontario organizations, the need to comply with the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) and its Information and Communications Standard may seem like a back-burner to-do item.  However, there are 3 good reasons to move it up the priority list and start working on improving your site now.

1.  Beat the rush

Remember Y2k?  I’m sure most of us do and would like to forget.  But, it was certainly the companies that jumped on board early to deal with the presumed risks of the clocks changing over to the year 2000 that were able to secure their vendors of choice to solve their problems.  They were ready well ahead of the stroke of midnight and weren’t in panic mode.  The same situation, albeit much less panicked, is likely to occur when the proposed Information and Communications Standard becomes law.  When deadlines loom, resources become scarce and costs begin to rise.  Why not start the shift now and avoid the rush?

2.  It makes good business sense

Ensuring your website is accessible to as many people as possible just makes good sense.  According to Statistics Canada (Participation and Activity Limitation Survey 2006), it’s estimated that about 1.9 million people in Ontario have a disability.  That’s 14% of the Ontario marketplace.  Are you really willing to ignore that much of the market because your website isn’t accessible?

3.  It’s not as tough as you think

Many website owners and web developers think it’s difficult to build an accessible website.  Even more think it’s impossible to have an accessible website that looks good.  The reality is, accessible websites are far easier to build (and to maintain) that the websites of old. Building a website to WCAG standards (part of the proposed Information and Communications Standard) is not complex and acts as the foundation for an accessible site.  If your site passes through simple to use accessibility tools (WebAim’s WAVE is one of my favourite’s),  you’re well on the way.  Granted, the site still needs to be reviewed by humans for accessibility AND usability but that task becomes less onerous if you’ve been designing with accessibility and usability in mind from the get-go.

Making the switch to an accessible website is just the right thing to do for a number of reasons.  So, what’s keeping you from getting started?