'Time for businesses to reassess web accessibility': Canadian tech company


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — One of the partners in a web accessibility business wants to pass on a reminder to B.C. companies, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dave Hale is with Craft & Crew in Ontario, where that province is aiming to ensure website accessibility is happening, and he says with everything going on, it’s not something a lot of corporations have been thinking about.

Unfortunately, this means people with disabilities may have inadvertently been left behind.

“When everything from government services to education to a lot of health care, to of course retail and shopping experiences — when all of those dramatically moved online, I think that these issues that were always there really came much more into the limelight,” he tells NEWS 1130.

#TECH: I spoke to Dave Hale w/@craftandcrew_ca who says the #COVID19 pandemic has played a part in companies looking at website accessibility for people w/disabilities. There were already moves in Ontario b/c of AODA (read more re: AODA here): https://t.co/3u3gQbKVMZ

— Ria Renouf (@riarenouf) January 28, 2021

He says as they’ve worked with companies to create websites, they’ve been forced to take accessibility seriously, and that continues to be the case. There’s been a particular rush in Ontario, even after that province pushed back its start date for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) – that was supposed to start this month but has since been moved to June.

Once AODA goes into effect, businesses and other organizations that don’t follow the rules around accessibility could face stiff fines.

“In the late summer, we just started getting say, four to five times more inbound requests from organizations that were like, ‘hey, are you guys able to help us at least conduct an audit, or make enhancements or improvements?’ So, I’ll be honest, we assumed everyone was on the same page, and that everyone had been working hard…especially big brands, that everyone is on this. We were shocked by the number of organizations that were reaching out to us,” he explains.

Hale’s reminder comes as Craft & Crew enters into a partnership with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) as they work together to figure out where improvements can be made, and the not-for-profit told Craft & Crew this continued to be an issue.

“We contacted [CNIB] mainly just as a fact-finding mission to be like, ‘is what we’re experiencing something you’re also experiencing? Are there really this…number of organizations that are still so far behind in this arena that this is a really big problem?’ CNIB was like, ‘oh yeah. You’d be shocked at how many requests we get as well.'”

Hale says it's partnering w/@CNIB to work together w/businesses t