The Consequences of Having a Non-AODA-Compliant Website

November 19, 2023

Navigating the digital space can be a major challenge for businesses unaware of the Ontarians With Disabilities Act (AODA) requirements. 

A staggering 98% of websites fail to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), leaving them vulnerable to significant legal and financial repercussions.

“Adherence to AODA is more than just a legal mandate; it’s a moral compass guiding digital inclusivity,” Pixelcarve CEO Curtis Priest says of the importance of accessible online content.

If your company’s website is found to be not up to AODA standards, you could face some serious consequences, in addition to fines, sanctions, legal issues, and reputational damage. 

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the consequences of having an AODA non-compliant website, and what you can do to avoid this situation.

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Understanding AODA Website Compliance

Why Compliance is Non-Negotiable

The AODA was established to ensure that Ontario is accessible to all individuals, including people with disabilities. For digital spaces, this means adhering to the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulations (IASR), which include the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

If your website is not compliant with the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards by the required deadlines, you are not only sidelining a significant portion of the population but also risking your business’s integrity and financial stability.

The AODA and Your Website

The AODA mandates that all public sector organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations with 50 or more employees, make their websites and web content accessible. 

The goal is to identify, remove, and prevent barriers to accessibility, ensuring that everyone can interact with your site effectively. This includes a range of requirements from text alternatives for non-text content to audio description for video content.

The Legal Consequences of AODA Non-Compliance

Facing the Penalties

Ignoring AODA compliance can lead to severe legal consequences. The penalties for non-compliance can be hefty, with corporations facing fines of up to $100,000 per day

For directors and officers of a corporation, personal fines can reach up to $50,000 per day. These are not just idle threats; enforcement is active and can be triggered by public complaints or audits.

The Cost of Inaction

Beyond fines, legal action can result in mandatory orders to comply and negative publicity. The reputational damage from being publicly listed as non-compliant can be far more costly than the fines themselves. 

It’s a stark reminder that accessibility for Ontarians is not just a legal requirement but also a public interest priority.

Business and Financial Impacts

Your Reputation and Revenue at Stake

When your website fails to meet AODA standards, it doesn’t just affect those with disabilities, it impacts your brand. You risk losing the trust of your customers, including the 15.4% of Ontarians who have a disability

This can translate into a direct loss of revenue, as a non-compliant website is less likely to attract repeat visits or recommendations.

The Cost of Last-Minute Compliance

If you’re not proactive about AODA compliance, you may face significant costs to make emergency updates to your website. 

These rushed changes are often more expensive than if you had integrated accessibility from the start. Plus, you may lose revenue during the time your website is not fully operational.

Accessibility and User Experience Consequences

The User Impact

For the one in seven Ontarians living with a disability, a non-compliant website isn’t just an inconvenience; it’s a barrier to essential information and services. By not adhering to AODA, you’re not only excluding a significant portion of the population but also failing to provide an equitable user experience.

The Ripple Effect of Compliance

On the other hand, making your website AODA-compliant can have positive effects. Accessible websites tend to have better navigation and structure, which benefits all users, not just those with disabilities. Moreover, compliance can improve your company’s image and customer satisfaction.

SEO and Competitive Disadvantages

Accessibility Affects SEO

AODA non-compliance can negatively impact your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines favor websites that provide a good user experience, and accessibility is a significant factor. A non-compliant website may rank lower in search results, reducing your online visibility and potential customer base.

Losing Your Competitive Edge

In today’s market, businesses that prioritize accessibility stand out. By ignoring AODA, you’re giving your competitors the advantage. They’ll be seen as socially responsible and inclusive, attracting customers who value these traits.

Steps to Ensure AODA Compliance

1. Start With an Audit

The first step to compliance is understanding where you stand. Conducting an accessibility audit against the accessibility guideline WCAG will help you identify areas that need improvement.

2. Implementing Necessary Changes

Once you’ve identified the gaps, it’s time to make changes. This might include altering your website’s design, adding audio descriptions to videos, or ensuring that all functions are accessible via keyboard.

3. Ongoing Compliance

AODA compliance is not a one-time task. It requires ongoing efforts to ensure that new content and features are accessible. Regularly submitting a compliance report is also part of maintaining your status.

A Quick Guide to AODA Compliance for Websites

1AuditEvaluate your website against WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards.
2PlanDevelop a plan to address identified accessibility issues.
3ImplementMake necessary changes to your website’s design and content.
4TrainEducate your team on AODA standards and inclusive practices.
5MonitorRegularly review your website to ensure ongoing compliance.
6ReportSubmit an AODA compliance report as required.
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Avoid the Perils of Non-AODA-Compliance by Partnering With Pixelcarve

Ignoring AODA non-compliance is a gamble that no business should take. The risks are too high, and the consequences too severe. 

From legal repercussions to lost revenue and damaged reputation, the cost of non-compliance can be profound. But it’s more than just about avoiding penalties; it’s about doing the right thing for all users, including people with disabilities.

Pixelcarve understands the gravity of these risks and stands as a leader in producing AODA-compliant websites. If you’re ready to ensure your digital presence is accessible to everyone, contact us today. Let’s schedule a consultation to safeguard your business and embrace inclusivity.