Newmarket-Aurora MP Tony Van Bynen has launched a new fully accessible website beyond the norms of a standard one for a member of Parliament.
The website vanbynen.ca now has a full array of accessibility features meant to help constituents facing a wide range of disabilities. The features include profiles for the visually impaired, those with a cognitive disability, motor disability and more, with options to customize the experience to the user.
“Members of Parliament have a duty and a responsibility to serve all of their constituents,” Van Bynen said in a news release. “Ensuring that everyone has equal access and opportunity to contact me or my website is extremely important for me and my team.”
It is not a federal requirement to have a fully accessible website, Van Bynen’s office said. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act — which aims to create a fully accessible Ontario by 2025 — introduced requirements at the start of 2021 for Ontario websites to become accessible, based on the international standard Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. The Accessible Canada Act, passed in 2019 with a 2040 horizon, also points to that standard.
But not all politician websites have a full range of accessibility options to ensure strong accessibility. Van Bynen said he might be the first among Liberal MPs.
Although no constituent specifically approached Van Bynen’s office about the website, the MP said they are aware of broad concerns to support those living with disabilities. Newmarket-based website design business Rosewood Inc. approached them on the matter and Van Bynen decided to move forward.
“A member of parliament is often thought of as the voice of their constituents. An accessible website allows for equal access to information, as well as equal opportunity to have voices be heard,” Rosewood founder and CEO Deanna Simone said.
The website was paid for out of his member’s budget, Van Bynen said.
“It was absolutely the right thing to do.”
He added that he hopes other MP websites will add the same options.
“I hope that by initiating this change, other MPs will begin to follow suit and ensure that users with impairments and other limitations can experience their websites the same as any other user,” Van Bynen said.