According to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) in 2019 nearly 75% of Canadians spend at least 3 to 4 hours online each day.
With a country catering to this many users comes a series of compliance rules and regulations Canadians need to adhere to. All website owners need to ensure that everyone can visit their website with equal access regardless of any disability or impairment.
Many factors go into making a website accessible to all Canadians, including website optimization, hosting efficiencies and website file compressions allowing for all users to access a website under any condition. For users with impaired vision or impaired hearing, it’s important for them to receive the correct information ensuring your website is fully accessible and user friendly.
Making sure your website hosting is up to speed can solve a lot of these issues, but there are also many steps in the development stage of a website that will help make your website accessible to everyone.
Why is Website Accessibility so important?
Website accessibility is a way to access a website with all the correct protocols in place that enhance the user experience. By making your website accessible, it allows for users, including those with disabilities including speech, hearing and sight impairments to access a website through alternative methods.
Those users normally have difficulties accessing websites through the normal methods so require a variety of tools and devices to help them navigate online. Often, people with disabilities use smaller, older devices with smaller keyboards, further highlighting accessibility concerns.
Accessible websites also give those with temporary connectivity issues and situational limitations additional tools to know what’s on a website. Keeping your website accessible for all users is justifiably appropriate for every website owner and helps attract a loyal audience for your brand.
According to Statistics Canada 6.2 million people over the age of 15 live with some form of disability. That’s why it’s a requirement to have your website fully optimized.
There are important regulations that a website needs to comply with in order to be accessible. The laws that we’ll outline apply to all website publications, materials and content. What we’ll also outline below are ways you can make your website legally available to your entire audience.
Canadian Accessibility Laws
Before the digital age of computers and mobile devices, laws were put in place for Canadians living with disabilities and were protected by legislation. Most of those laws remain intact throughout the country and have been amended to meet current digital needs.Before the digital age of computers and mobile devices, laws were put in place for Canadians living with disabilities and were protected by legislation. Most of those laws remain intact throughout the country and have been amended to meet current digital needs.
There have also been many new laws and regulations to comply with the online world in accordance with US law.Canadian legislatures throughout Canada created their own set of rules as it pertains to websites and accessibility. In 2016, as part of the Canadian Human Rights Act, it was mandated that all website owners have websites in full compliance of these rules.Business owners in Canada with over 50 employees, in the private and public sector, were required to create or refresh their websites to meet the WCAG 2.0 Level A – AA guidelines by January 1, 2021.
Website content includes all pages, text, video, images and audio files.By 2025, the AODA also requires changes for all public, school or business websites.
The list includes such items as:
- Having all school materials in their library accessible.
- Creating videos that are accessible and include captions for the hearing impaired.
- Developing accessible training and educational materials.
- Creating accessible forms and emergency materials
In fact, business owners will have to ensure that all materials, emergency response information and communications are accessible. If one is not compliant, a fine of up to $15,000 may be issued depending on the severity of the website’s infraction and its environment.
Best Practices to Making Accessible Websites
By making your website compliant with Canadian regulations, having all of the considerations reflected on your website can truly go a long way into appeasing a wide range of users. Not only will the government recognize your website with a satisfactory user experience, your user base will praise you and customers staying loyal giving your website a social conscience.
Compliance is given by building a website with accessibility tools in your website design and creating different methodologies for the disabled community to help navigate your website as everyone would.
Some of the best practices we advise for those wanting to comply with the accessibility rules and regulations are listed below for your perusal.
An amalgamation of tech innovators compiled a full list of different tools and measures to take to have a website in full compliance. To help serve the entire community, take time to follow these best practices to incorporate into your website and its accessibility.
Typesetting and readability
Above all considerations is the notion to have consistent fonts and colours on your website in an organized fashion to help all disabled users navigate your website easier and efficiently. Above all considerations is the notion to have consistent fonts and colours on your website in an organized fashion to help all disabled users navigate your website easier and efficiently.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Using text instead of graphics.
- Having one or two easy to read large fonts
- Ensuring the contrast between the text and background is high enough to enhance the reading experience.
- Avoid fancy fonts and stick with web friendly ones.
- Avoid using variations with caps, bold or italicized fonts and text that blinks or moves.
Accessible Headers in HTML
A large consideration in coding websites is a hierarchical structure to each page. By having websites in a clear, concise order gives visually impaired users an easy roadmap to follow. It allows for easy flow of the website, readability and provides your website users with clear navigation and direction.
The recommendation is that the largest header (H1) should be at the top of the page, followed by the other subsequent headers on any given page. Each subsequent header should differ in size, getting smaller as the page goes down.
Accessible through Keyboard
A major factor in making websites accessible is the ability for non-mouse users to be able to navigate your website with the keyboard.
Methods to create keyboard accessibility can be used by lining up the tab feature and helping to eliminate the use of a mouse. Proper testing should be done on your website to ensure this action is in good working order.
Content in HTML: Colours / Images / Layout
Have colour blind individuals in mind when considering colours on your website. What might look great to some, will look vastly different to those with colour blindness.
To keep all parties happy, the recommendation is to choose darker colours against a lighter backdrop.
To help there are various online tools to gauge the contrast between colours and how they’re in compliance with the guidelines.
Images on websites should always have “alt” tags filled and clearly specified as to what the image portrays for the visually impaired.
Another thing to consider is making sure your text and images are responsive and can increase or decrease in size depending on the device used. This can have a large effect on accessibility, layout and functionality.
The recommendation is also to incorporate plenty of white space, a well-sized font size and visible blocks of text. Staying compliant with most mobile standards, it’s recommended you avoid using tables unless necessary.
In keeping with compliance there are a few concerns when considering adding video to your website. Auto playing a video on a website is something to refrain from as non-visual people may not be able to find the means to stop the video. A few accessibility considerations when posting videos on your website include:
- Captioning: The video’s text should be captioned and synchronized with the video. The captioning should be viewable to all users and available in a simple toggle form beneath the video player.
- Transcript: The transcript of the actual video should be factual and be a true representation of the content on the video.
- Descriptions: By having audio descriptions for the visually impaired will allow them to also enjoy the video content. All actions in the video should be portrayed and properly conveyed as it appears on the video.
Many websites feature content that may include documents linked from the web pages. Those files should be clear and concise as to what the different documents convey to every end-user.
Other important considerations include using headers and formats to ensure an enhanced flow and having the documents in a clear list format.
Give attention to different languages and their nuances to determine the right punctuation and dialect. If images are used to link to the documents, be sure to use the “alt” tag to properly associate the image to the document.
Accessible Online Forms
When developing forms on a website, whether as a signup form, a helpdesk ticket system or e-commerce forms, it’s important to make sure the fields are large and unique for the end-user. The user should know which field is for which label and are all correctly attributed.
Being compliant on your website shouldn’t mean deconstructing your website to allow for accessibility. Our recommendations can be implemented at any time and won’t impede the design throughout your website.
Luckily, most website tools and builders are built-in with accessibility concerns. If you’re not familiar with the backend tools, consider checking with a seasoned website developer to ensure this is being followed.
All The Way Up Media is an internet marketing company that is experienced with web accessibility guidelines.
Give us a shout to see if your website is in full compliance with the Canadian Web Accessibility Standards.