ADA compliance is an enigma for many care providers, yet it remains a growing threat to any organization with a consumer-facing website. It’s especially critical that medical practice leaders take heed of compliance, as medical liability lawsuits are a looming danger for many practitioners.
If you want to learn more about what ADA-compliant means and what makes a website ADA-compliant, then keep reading.
What Is ADA Compliance and What Are the Consequences of Not Abiding by It?
ADA compliance refers to the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. It mandates that all electronic technology, like a website, be accessible to people with disabilities.
A watershed moment came in 2022 with the Robes v. Domino’s Pizza case. A blind man alleged that Domino’s website and smartphone app were not accessible to people who use screen readers. The court found that Dominos had violated the ADA, and they settled. Since then, more than 11,000 suits have been filed against inaccessible website owners, with an average settlement of $50,000.
Not only can an inaccessible website make your website impossible for individuals with disabilities to use, but it can also cost you money and damage your brand. Read on to learn more about the consequences of inaccessible websites and how to create accessibility.
Inaccessible Websites Could Turn Away Potential Patients
According to the CDC, 61 million adults, approximately 1 in 4 people, across the United States live with a disability. This likely includes a significant portion of your target demographic. That same article reports:
- 5.8% of adults struggle with deafness or serious difficulty hearing.
- 10.8% struggle with cognition problems.
- 13.7% have mobility-related concerns.
As a medical practice leader, it is highly recommended that your website include features like easy-to-book online appointments and critical information in apparent locations. When patients cannot access essential information on your website, it can turn them away from your service and towards another medical care provider.
Accessibility Devices That You Should Know
People with disabilities may use various tools and assistive devices to help them access websites. For example:
These devices read the words on a screen, including using alt text to describe images.
Do you have videos on your website? Deaf or hard-of-hearing users would likely appreciate captioned videos to follow along easier.
Voice Recognition Software
People who struggle with mobility concerns may prefer using voice recognition software to navigate the internet rather than relying on a clunky mouse or touchscreen.
Many Medical Practices Create Barriers to Access Without Realizing It
The little details can make a big difference regarding website accessibility. For example:
Many people with visual challenges struggle with differentiating between two very similar colors. If your website doesn’t use high-contrast options, it could hinder people with low vision’s ability to navigate your site.
People who use screen readers rely on alt text for images, captions, and other content to guide them through your site. Alt text may be crucial for infographics, laying out critical information for potential patients. The better the picture you paint with your alt text, the better individuals with disabilities can take in all the information presented on your website.
Descriptive Link Names
For those who use screen readers, it can be incredibly frustrating to mistakenly click the wrong links because they are all generically named. Using descriptive link names can make it easier for them to navigate to the content they need on their first try. Here is an excellent guide to writing descriptive links.
On medical websites, assessable forms are crucial to acquiring patients. They should be easy to access via keyboard or voice command, and the content on those forms should be as easy as can be to see and fill in. Also, avoid asking for unnecessary information or insisting on having those forms filled out virtually before an appointment since those can pose barriers for potential patients.
Check to make sure your website is easy as it can be to navigate. Your patients need to be able to navigate via keyboard or voice command whenever possible to streamline use.
How Your Website Can Reach ADA Compliance
As a medical practice, you want to be accessible to all potential patients, those with disabilities and those without them. Ensuring that your website follows ADA compliance is critical to ensure that the patients who need you most can access your practice without frustration. There are technology solutions can help remedy inaccessibility and mitigate lawsuit risks. For example, a widget called accessiBe, which costs around $50 a month, is designed to ensure accessibility across your website.
By reviewing your website regularly and staying on top of accessibility tools, you can ensure that it meets the needs of your disabled patients.