QReserve, a Hamilton-based provider of workplace scheduling software, wanted to ensure that its products and practices met provincial and international standards of web accessibility. It asked Mohawk’s Accessibility Research Lab to evaluate its products for accessibility and to provide guidelines for the implementation of digital accessibility.
Future Ready Challenge
One in seven Ontarians has a disability that can limit their participation in the digital world. In a networked world, where we use the internet for everything from entertainment to education to work, that’s a major obstacle to inclusion and equity.
Organizations are acting rapidly to make their websites easier to use for people with visual impairments, hearing issues and other disabilities. The international Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide clear guidelines and recommendations for creating inclusive online content. In Ontario, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) outlines legislative requirements for online content, including requiring, since January 2021, that many Ontario businesses meet a standard of accessibility that includes alternative text for images, contrast guidelines and proper labeling of content. The AODA mandates compliance from organizations with 50 or more employees in the province. Fines for offenses under AODA can be $50,000 a day for a person or $100,000 a day for a corporation (AODA (2005, c. 11, s. 37 (3)))
R & D Collaboration
QReserve is a Hamilton-based creator of workplace scheduling software with a global client list. Many large organizations buy QReserve’s products, and the company knew that creating accessible, AODA-compliant software would therefore increase sales and usability in their target market.
For assistance, QReserve asked Mohawk’s Accessibility Research Lab to evaluate its products for accessibility and provide recommendations to help with the implementation of the research team’s accessibility requirements.
The Mohawk research team undertook a complete accessibility audit of the company’s website, user portal and cloud-based software platform, providing recommendations and actionable items to ensure WCAG 2.0 compliance. As part of the project, the research team conducted End-User Testing where members of the disability community tested QReserve’s website and online platform. The research team also provided the company with an accessibility awareness and training plan.
Informing the audit was a legislative review covering key Canadian legislations and guidelines (ACA, AODA, WCAG), as well as selected International guidelines, and a literature review addressing the principles of Universal Design. A business case for accessibility was provided exploring the financial and social implications for accessibility in business and technology
QReserve CEO Brandon Aubie says that improving accessibility has made his company’s product easier to use for everyone, including himself. “That’s been the biggest mindset change. … We look at them more like user-experience guidelines now. It has become a priority.”