TORONTO: With the Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81) expected to become law this summer, and with websites in Ontario being required to meet strict accessibility criteria by 2021, the call for accessibility is gaining momentum.
However, a newly launched Accessibility World Map website shows that Canada still has a long way to go. In terms of digital accessibility, Canada trails a number of developed nations, including the U.S., the United Kingdom, and Australia.

Calculated using the Siteimprove Digital Certainty Index(DCI) Accessibility Score*, the scores on the Accessibility World Map are rated out of 100, with 100 being the most digitally accessible, and 0 being the least digitally accessible.

Here are the key Canadian findings

Canada scores 63 out of 100. Globally, the U.S. has the highest score with 65, and United Arab Emirates has the lowest score with 58. See below for the full list of country scores.
Of the Canadian industries ranked, Education is the highest with a score of 66. Surprisingly, Retail ranks the lowest with a score of 59, meaning that Canadian retailers are missing out on a large percentage of potential customers.
Other Canadian industries are ranked as follows (from most inclusive to least inclusive) Government - 65; Healthcare - 64; Financial Services - 63; Manufacturing - 61; Tourism and Hospitality - 60

Accessibility is no small issue — approximately 1 in 5 Canadians have a disability, says Mike Cart, Managing Director, Siteimprove Canada. Creating a Canada where everyone can participate fully without barriers is long overdue — and not just in the physical sense. We're just starting to see companies and industries wake up to the fact that all Canadians deserve equal access to websites and digital platforms.

While it may come as little surprise that Education and Government are the most accessible sectors in Canada, it's unfortunate to see Retail at the bottom of the list. However, for those in the accessibility industry, the results are hardly shocking.

We've been working with clients from all of these sectors over the last couple of years, explains Cart. And to be frank, we aren't surprised to see retail rank the lowest, as the industry has a lot to do to catch up to some of its more digitally inclusive counterparts. Making e-commerce sites more inclusive is beneficial for many reasons, including reaching a potential 22 per cent of the customer base that's being missed out on.

Based on Siteimprove's Must-Have Accessibility Handbook, organizations can begin making their websites more accessible by using consistent design across their site, choosing colour wisely (high contrast can help visually impaired users), ensuring users can navigate the site without the use of a mouse (using only the keyboard), including proper page headings to help situate users, and providing the option for text to be read aloud.

(Posted on 12 July 2019, 1680322764 18O206O92O240)