ACA Canada is a set of regulations that promises an equal opportunity to all, despite their disabilities or diverse backgrounds. As part of this, Canadian citizens have been allowed equal participation in all federally regulated entities, including the federal government, federally regulated industries, and Crown corporations.
Let us understand what this law is and how it impacts websites.
What Is ACA?
The ACA, or The Accessible Canada Act, was enacted in 2019. The act aims to establish equal opportunities and access to information for all despite their disabilities. As a country, Canada has set a milestone of 2040 to provide all facilities to people with disabilities, and ACA is a remarkable step in that direction.
Such individuals have faced significant barriers to ACA website accessibility in many areas of life, including employment, education, transportation, and access to information and communication technologies. These barriers can limit the ability of people with disabilities to fully participate in society, achieve their full potential, and enjoy the same rights as others.
ACA compliance requirements are applicable to both public and private sector entities, regardless of the geography within the country.
ACA Compliances For Websites
In this digital age, ensuring that everybody has access to comprehensive information is crucial to provide equal opportunities. The ACA compliance requirements take this into consideration and require all federally-regulated entities to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities.
The ACA law applies to all technological platforms and mediums based on information or communications. It includes company websites as well.
As a result, all offices that offer public-facing services, share information about such services, or have websites that provide employee communications must be easily accessible to people with disabilities. It means all such entities must ensure that their websites are accessible to people who are blind or individuals who have low vision, deaf or hard of hearing, or have mobility or cognitive impairments.
For the entities that own websites, ACA guidelines require them to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA.
Let us explore what is WCAG 2.0, Level AA.
What Are The Guidelines Under WCAG 2.0, Level AA?
WCAG 2.0, Level AA, is a set of guidelines that all website owners must comply with to ensure web accessibility. Broadly, it means that the website should work with different assistive technologies, and the content must be easy to understand. Lastly, the website should work on multiple devices and browsers.
A few examples to make information easily accessible to everyone are – you can offer alternative text for images. The text should also explain the purpose of the image. Another example is providing captions and transcripts for audio and video content to ensure that people with hearing impairments can understand the content.
Apart from this, the content on the website should be in an easy language that all can comprehend.
Which Websites Have To Comply With ACA?
ACA compliance applies to three main groups:
- All government entities like government departments and agencies. Even the parliament is not excluded. It also includes the Canadian Armed Forces and the police.
- All state-owned companies, including the ones that operate as private businesses.
- All private sector companies are regulated by federal rules and regulations, mainly in transport, banking, and telecommunications.
If your business or website falls into one of these categories, ACA compliance is a legal requirement for you.
What Happens If You Fail To Comply With ACA?
Canada has an office of the Accessibility Commissioner that receives and manages complaints about any ACA website accessibility violations. The office investigates all accusations and serves notices for violating entities.
Business and website owners who are found guilty of violating ACA regulations can face fines of up to $250,000 for each violation.
How can you ensure that your website is compliant with the requirements of ACA guidelines?
Here is how website owners can develop content and strategy to meet ACA compliance requirements.
Create An Accessibility Plan –
The first step in ensuring ACA website accessibility is to make an accessibility plan. It should include your intent and the steps you will take to remove the barriers to make your website accessible to individuals with disabilities.
You can also define the responsibilities of individuals to ensure this feature at all times.
Audit Your Website –
The next step is to audit your website and identify the accessibility barriers. These barriers could include problems like not providing enough color contrast or providing too much of it, lacking alternative text for images and videos, and the inaccessibility of the site using a keyboard.
There are some online compliance checker tools that can also give you a report. You can also use a checklist while auditing your website.
Change Your Design Practices –
In the next step, you can define your design practices to ensure the content is readable and accessible to all. These include using simple and clear language, providing proper color contrast, clear and concise text, and alternative text for images.
You may need to add animation to your website, and it is advisable to select a company that can fulfill all your requirements for web accessibility solutions.
Use Accessible Coding Practices –
Use accessible coding practices, such as providing descriptive labels for form fields, ensuring that all page elements can be navigated using a keyboard, and providing audio descriptions or transcripts for multimedia content.
Conduct Accessibility Testing –
Once you have done everything from your side, the next step is to conduct accessibility testing to ensure that your website is accessible to people with disabilities.
You can use tools like automated accessibility testing tools or manual testing by individuals with disabilities to identify and fix accessibility issues. The idea should be to listen and not defend your website when you receive feedback.
Update And Maintain Accessibility –
Finally, it is essential to regularly review and update your website to ensure that it remains accessible to individuals with disabilities.
ACA compliance is to ensure the accessibility of information and services to all. A violation of these compliances can damage the reputation of your brand and cause serious financial implications. You can either do it in-house or use ACA compliance services to be on the right side of the law.
Apart from this, complying with these norms indicates that you create an equitable workplace for your employees for training and conveying crucial information. Moreover, it also means you value all your customers and are willing to go the extra way to provide information to each one of them. Connect with us for quality digital content creation requirements to meet the requirements of ACA guidelines.