Why should my company care about WCAG?
Chances are if you work for a large pharmaceutical company in Ontario, your company is probably breaking the law?
You may or may not about Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, S.O. 2005, c. 11 (or AODA for short) – the Ontario legislation that governs accessibility for people with disabilities. One key element of that law is related to website accessibility. Since 2014 any new website and NEW WEB CONTENT must follow certain guidelines for accessibility. If your company has posted a new product monograph online in the last five years, and that product monograph isn’t accessible, then your company is contravening AODA and may be subject to fines of up to $100,000 per DAY! If you have created a new or significantly updated a website since 2014 and it does not meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines then it also contravenes the law and may make your company subject to the same fines.
WCAG Means more people can access your site
Web accessibility means making your website and all its content, including PDFs, images and videos available to as many people as possible.
There are three key benefits of having accessible web content:
- You will comply with Ontario law
- You can help more patients
- You can make content accessible on your own terms
Your company already spends a lot of time and resources to create physician and patient material that is accurate and useful. BUT what if more than 1 in 5 people couldn’t access that material? In 2017, 22% of the Canadian population aged 15 years and over had one or more disabilities. And this proportion only increased with age, from 13% for those aged 15 – 24 years to 47% for those aged 75 years and over.
This is where web accessibility comes in. It’s about making your website, and its associated content (including downloadable material), available to as many people as possible. It’s not about making it difficult for you and your team, but about removing obstacles for patients and caregivers.
Disabilities that affect web usage
However, by abiding by website guidelines (outlined in WCAG) your company’s website and web content can also help those:
- With a slow internet connection
- With a small screen or unusual device
- Who can’t listen to sound at work or on transit
- Who are not as internet/tech-savvy
- Who just need a larger font size
The best part about an accessible website is the added bonus of being search engine friendly. Content that can be read by a screen reader is also more easily understood by search engines.
The Four Principles of WCAG
WCAG is built on four main principles. All web content must be:
But what do these principles mean in practical terms? Here are some examples:
|Non-text content||Provide alternatives for non-text content||Add written descriptions for important images|
|Audio-only & Video-only||Provider alternatives for video or audio-only content||Provide closed captioning for videos|
|Info & Relationships||Logical Structure||Forms and headings are appropriately labelled|
|Meaningful Sequence||Present content in a meaningful order||Headings have the correct sequence|
|Use of Colour||Don’t only use colour for text differentiation||Use an underline or a font change to indicate navigation changes|
HOW CAN MY COMPANY WEBSITE BE WCAG COMPLIANT?
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