The Customer Service Standards of the AODA gives service providers guidelines on how to start making their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. While some guidelines in the Standard apply to service in-person, other guidelines apply to both in-person and remote service. Moreover, one of the most popular kinds of remote service takes place online. More and more organizations now give customers the option to do business over the Internet. Consequently, a provider’s website can be as important as its storefront. However, many organizations’ websites are not accessible for customers with disabilities. Providers can expand their consumer market and gain loyal customers when they ensure online customer service accessibility.
Online Customer Service Accessibility
Service providers have another reason to make their online presences accessible. The Information and Communications Standards of the AODA mandates that all Ontario public sector organizations, and all private sector organizations with fifty or more workers, must make their websites accessible by 2021. To do so, organizations must comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA. This international standard gives web developers guidelines on how to make their webpages accessible to computer users with disabilities.
Highlights of WCAG 2.0
WCAG 2.0 guidelines describe how customers should be able to:
- Perceive and navigate web content, such as with:
- Text, instead of images of text
- Information that can be enlarged up to 200 per cent without losing site functionality
- Good colour contrast between text and background
- Buttons labeled with words, not just with pictures, shapes, or colours
- Captions available for all audio
- Audio descriptions and captions available for all videos
- Operate websites, such as with:
- Keyboard commands instead of mouse clicking
- Options to extend time limits
- No elements that might induce seizures, such as flashing lights
- Titles and headings that help customers know where they are
- Understand website information and layout, such as with:
- Simple, linear layouts that are the same for each page of a website
- Clear language, instead of figures of speech
- Clear instructions for completing tasks, such as purchasing items or filling in forms
- Text descriptions of customer errors when inputting information
- Sign language interpretation
- Definitions of unusual words and abbreviations
- Visit websites using a variety of assistive technology, such as:
- Screen readers and Braille displays
- Screen magnifiers
- Speech recognition programs
The WCAG webpage provides the full list of requirements, as well as technical guidance for website owners and developers on how to implement them.
Online customer service accessibility should be available for customers of all abilities. There are many web-based things service providers can do to give every customer a fulfilling service experience.