Since 2012, public and private sector employers have been implementing accessibility standards set out by the Accessibility for Ontario with Disabilities Act (AODA) and its regulations. The process is iterative with requirements coming into force gradually. On January 1, 2021, public libraries are required to makes website and web content accessible. In order to comply, your library’s website and its contents must meet WCAG 2.0. There are limited exceptions if your library can’t comply.
In addition to the content created on library websites for informational purposes (locations, hours, policies, etc.), these websites provide public access to databases and other electronic resources. How does the AODA apply to content that the library has no control over?
The Integrated Accessibility Standards (O. Reg. 191/11) specify accessibility standards required of public and private sector organizations and Section 14 specifically addresses the regulations that apply to websites and web content. Clause (5) requires that websites and web content adhere to the regulation if “an organization controls directly or through a contractual relationship that allows for modification of the product.”
In the case of databases and other similar web-based applications, public libraries do not usually have contracts that allow for them to have any control over the accessibility standards of these products. Therefore, the requirements of section 14 of the Integrated Accessibility Standards do not apply to content on databases and other similar electronic resources when linked through the library website.
This being said, whenever possible, public sector organization are required, under section 5 of the regulations, to “incorporate accessibility design, criteria and features when procuring or acquiring goods, services or facilities, except where it is not practicable to do so.”