Toronto skyline

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is a law aimed at making the Canadian province of Ontario fully accessible by 2025. The act is a framework for standards to make the Canadian province accessible to all.

The Act wants to create an Ontario of full participation. This means that every Ontario citizen has the right to take part in all aspects of life. No one should be prevented from joining public, economic or social life. It’s a world-leading Act and one that I hope spreads across the globe as it deserves.

AODA includes duties on some Ontario organisations to make their websites accessible. Organisations with 50 or more employees must make their websites conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG).

AODA applies to all Ontario organisations that provide goods, services or facilities to the public or to other organisations and have at least one employee.

If you run an organisation Ontario, your compliance is part of a timeline. This is based on the type of organisation you run.

When does the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act impact you?

Government of Ontario and the Legislative Assembly


New public and internal websites and web content must conform with WCAG 2.0 Level AA other than criteria 1.2.4 (captions) and 1.2.5 (pre-recorded audio descriptions).


All public websites and web content must conform with WCAG 2.0 Level AA other than criteria 1.2.4 (captions) and 1.2.5 (pre-recorded audio descriptions).


All public and internal websites and web content must conform with WCAG 2.0 Level AA.

Public sector organizations, businesses and non-profit organizations (50+ staff)


New public websites and web content must conform with WCAG 2.0 Level A.


All public websites and web content posted after January 1, 2012, must conform with WCAG 2.0 Level AA other than criteria 1.2.4 (captions) and 1.2.5 (pre-recorded audio descriptions).

Find out more

May 15th is this year’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day. A day about promoting web accessibility to people who’ve never heard of it before. It’s a day when people like me do everything we can to spread the good word of web accessibility.

Here’s the introduction the official website gives:

The target audience of GAAD is the design, development, usability, and related communities who build, shape, fund and influence technology and its use. While people may be interested in the topic of making technology accessible and usable by persons with disabilities, the reality is that they often do not know how or where to start. Awareness comes first.

Wuhcag works a little differently as you know. While I work with developers and designers, I also love talking to content creators and business owners. That’s why I try to blog about accessibility from the ground up. If you create content for the web (any content at all!) or you own a website and someone else does it for you, you need to know about web accessibility. When better to start than Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2014?

Are you a Dude or a Douche?

To celebrate the official Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2014 hashtag (#GAAD), we’re going to have a little fun on May 15th.

You can be a #GAADude or a #GAADouche on the day.


#GAADudes and Dudettes are people trying to help with web accessibility. Not just the industry leaders, but anyone making even one element on their website more accessible on May 15th. If you’re taking part in Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2014, let me know by telling me what you’re doing via Twitter and using the hashtag #GAADude.

For example:

Just added alt text to images on my site. I’m a total #GAADude


Just for fun, I want you to let me know how you’re disrupting web accessibility too. Why not go in to work early and steal all the mice? Pull the plug on everyone’s speakers or tape newspaper over monitors? Find something fun to do, that helps everyone else learn a little about the issues people with disabilities can face using the internet.

Don’t forget to share:

Just wrote my boss a memo in the smallest lettering I could manage. Hope she’s got a magnifying glass! #GAADouche

My Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2014 sale

How to Meet the WCAG 2.0
This beautiful book for $1? It’s GAAD madness!

Just like last year, I’m running a limited sale on my book, How to Meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. The sale runs from May 13th to May 16th UK time – so wherever in the world you are, you can get it on GAAD.

What’s the deal? Pay what you want for it! Instead of my usual price, I’ll set the price at $1 and you can pay just that (or whatever you want over $1).

So get going, buy the book for as little as $1 – with free updates for life!

Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2014!

May 9th is Global Accessibility Awareness Day here on planet Earth. In simple terms, very simple terms, it’s a day dedicated to accessibility awareness. In slightly more complicated terms, we’re taking about a day where everyone involved with web development gets up and shouts about the benefits of accessible websites.

Here’s the day, as described by the founders:

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is a community-driven effort whose goal is to dedicate one day to raising the profile of and introducing the topic of digital (web, software, mobile app/device etc.) accessibility and people with different disabilities to the broadest audience possible.

Anyone and everyone should get involved in the day and help spread the word about web accessibility. You don’t have to be a developer to speak your mind either. May of you are business owners and designers who often work with developers. You can do your bit by championing the cause on May 9th (and every time you start/design a new project of course).

Global Accessibility Awareness Day tips

Here are a few fun things you can do on Global Accessibility Awareness Day:

  • Unplug the mouse of everyone in your office for the day
  • Tape cardboard or smear Vaseline over everyone’s monitors
  • Become a ‘Human Pop-up’ and interrupt colleagues in the middle of meetings
  • Remove the labels from the tea, coffee and sugar jars
  • Set up a screen to play a video whenever someone enters a room and remove all pause and stop buttons

Ok, so that might get you in trouble at work (just don’t do EVERYTHING on the list at once). The idea behind May 9th is to talk to someone about the importance of web accessibility who might not otherwise know about it.

If you have a team meeting, ask for ten minutes at the end to talk about what your company can do better.  If there’s no meeting, why not organise one (with the go ahead of your boss) and field questions on web accessibility. You could even offer an after-work talk if there’s no time in your office hours (perhaps host this at the pub or at least take a cake in).

My Global Accessibility Awareness Day sale

How to Meet the WCAG 2.0Did you see this one coming? So that I’m not all talk and no trousers, I’m putting my support behind Global Accessibility Awareness Day by reducing my book How to Meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 down to $1 for 48 hours from today.

I’ve gone for 48 hours because:

  • It’s a wicked-cool film, and
  • It means that as long as it is May 9th somewhere in the world, you can buy my book for $1.

I know a lot of people have really enjoyed my book and used it to improve their understanding of web accessibility (if that’s you by the way, I could do with some testimonials!). I’d like as many people as possible to get their hands on a copy on May 9th.

Now get going! Plan your actions for the day, like the Day on Facebook and buy my web accessibility book for $1.

Have you got any other ideas to add to my list of accessibility pranks? Share yours in the comments.

Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day!

Enhancing web 2.0 accessibility via AxsJAX‘ was a 2008 Google Tech Talk , presented by Charles Chen and T.V Raman. The video is a technical tutorial of AxsJAX, or Access-Enabling AJAX. AxsJAX was a Google project that injected web accessibility standards into web 2.0 properties – many of which rely on JavaScript.

This post is for developers only, if you’re a website owner you may find this interesting but probably not. Don’t worry, it’s ok to walk away from things that you don’t need to know. Focus on keeping your website accessible by pressuring your designers and developers to know this kind of stuff.

If you need a primer on AxsJAX, read the AxsJAX frequently asked questions.

After the video, I’ll offer a summary of key points (but no cheating, make a pot of tea and watch the video).

Enhancing web 2.0 accessibility via AxsJAX

Watch ‘Enhancing web 2.0 accessiility with AxsJAX’  on YouTube.

Enhancing web 2.0 accessibility summary

There’s plenty to learn from the video, but here’s my summary of the key points:

What we can do in web browsers

There have been great leaps forward in web 2.0, with dynamic websites and applications but this has brought along issues for people with disabilities, especially blind users. AxsJAX is about taking those dynamic technologies like AJAX and JavaScript and actually enhancing web 2.0 accessibility.

Using the W3C’s ARIA as a basis, we can give screen readers information about what is on a page. We can tell a screen reader that a menu is a menu and set speech for it. By adding just a few lines to the assembly language, we can make JavaScript talk.

The benefits

Not only can developers use AxsJAX on their websites, they can inject it into inaccessible websites through JavaScript. Developers can start enhancing web 2.0 accessibility on third-party sites.

AxsJAX is better than tabbing through a page, it can scroll through just links or just links in a certain section rather than through all focus points on a web page. It can enlarge sections on focus and zoom just the section, rather than the page – this stops users getting lost when they zoom.

AxsJAX tutorial

The majority of the video is a live tutorial of Charles working on Google Product Search (circa 2008), view it from 0:14:30 to 0:47:00.

Both the AxsJAX homepage and AxsJAX tutorials are good places to start learning more.

Closing thoughts and questions

AxsJAX is best when used rapid experiments and iteration.

Awareness of web accessibility is increasing, but getting people to act is still hard. People don’t know what they can and can’t use, especially with dynamic web 2.0 applications like AJAX and JavaScript. With AxsJAX you can inject accessibility for third parties using that same dynamic technology that scares them.

Guidelines for web accessibility are good but nothing beats your knowledge of your website and your users. Guidelines can’t cover every eventuality, so don’t wait to be told that something is an issue – if you see problems go and fix them. Iterate rapidly, take feedback and iterate again.

Don’t worry about fragility or change breaking what you’ve done. Websites that get used will iterate and improve, websites that don’t get used will break but no-one will care. Think of the process as growing robust over time.

You need three things to make your website or application with AxsJAX:

  1. Pick the content to speak to users
  2. Assign keyboard means of moving and acting
  3. Format what is spoken when users move and act

With just a little more time spent on formatting, we can produce really good products.

And that’s the end of the video! Please note that the above summary is my interpretation of ‘Enhancing web 2.0 accessibility with AxsJax‘, which has not be verified by the producers, Charles or Raman.

So what do you make of AxsJAX? Have you developed anything with it? How are you enhancing web 2.0 accessibility? Share your work in the comments.