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071: Accessibility Legislation with Lee Eldridge

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

The AODA is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and it is groundbreaking legislation, enacted in 2005, with the goal of enabling a fully-accessible Ontario by January 1, 2025. This is now less than 4 years away.

There are five standards contained within the act: customer service, information and communications, employment, transportation, and design of public spaces. Specifically, “accessible Information and Communications standards address the removal of barriers in access to information and include information being provided in person, through print, telephone, websites, and other means.” The AODA applies to companies of all sizes with potential fines, bad PR, lawsuits and/or erosion of brand trust resulting from non-compliance. While the AODA mandates the bare minimum, many companies are choosing to go above and beyond to help their clients access their products and services. Some accessibility advocates don’t see the standards as going far enough, as the AODA allows companies to rely on manual accommodations (for example, providing a screen-reader friendly version of a property tax bill when requested), versus accessibility (designing all property tax bills to be read by a screen reader through good hierarchical design and document tagging, for example). There’s lots to consider to becoming AODA-compliant and while we won’t get into the particulars in this conversation, we’ll explore developments as we creep closer and closer to the January 1, 2025 deadline.


Today’s guest is Lee Eldrdige, who I’ve known for many years, teaching alongside one another at the university and I’ve spent my fair share of time picking his brain on various design and printing-related topics. Lee will introduce himself in just a minute, but I will share that his long history in the communications industry, becoming an expert in both the digital and print mediums, as well as his warm and welcoming personality makes him a fantastic resource for big-picture solutions. After he and I finished our conversation that you’re about to hear, he made a clever insight about accessibility in web design that I’ll share now. Lee shared that he designed his first website in 1996 and in the 1990’s alt-tags (you’ll learn more about this in an upcoming episode), served a different purpose; they were the first thing viewers would see before the image would load in the days of slow dial-up Internet. Alt-tag image descriptions helped a viewer determine whether or not the image was worth the wait to download. Lee said that he can almost tell who became a web designer when, because those early to the game do it instinctively (for the aforementioned image loading purposes). For those who earned their credentials in the era when high speed Internet was the norm and for those who didn’t yet have accessibility top-of-mind don’t instinctively add alt-tags. And finally today’s web designers are acutely aware of alt-tagging images for accessibility reasons. Let’s hear from Lee, specifically in regards to what’s happening with accessibility legislation.

About Our Guest:

Lee is a leading expert in workflow automation and systems integration in the Canadian graphic arts industry. He began his career writing custom software for testing Y2K systems compliance for one of Canada’s largest banks in the 90s and developing websites in the early days of the web for clients such as Sheridan College. From there he worked at various early web development companies in Canada’s tech-sector, before shifting focus to new challenges in the graphic communication industry, graduating Ryerson University’s Graphic Communication Management program. For the last decade, Lee has been the Director of Interactive Solutions at the highly awarded CJ Graphics Inc., managing a team of designers, developers, technologists and more to create custom solutions for marketing, design and workflow challenges faced by national and international brands. He also served as Associate editor of Designedge Canada, the country's premier trade magazine for graphic designers for seven years. A natural innovator with a keen ability to connect real-life business needs with scalable, systematized solutions, Lee has spoken at international conferences and forward-thinking universities around the world on emerging technologies in the communications industry. Equally comfortable dealing with executive management as he is with IT staff, Lee connects clients and partners with functional, efficient solutions to their most pressing business challenges.

Music (public domain via Scott Holmes Music - Never Miss a Moment

Talk Paper Scissors Theme Music: Retro Quirky Upbeat Funk by Lewis Sound Production via Audio Jungle

Boat Origami Photo: Boat Origami Photo by Alex on Unsplash

Episode Artwork: Canva (remixed by Diana Varma)

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