As a healthcare marketer, or a small medical company, you try your best to attract, engage and educate clients – and the website design should be all about that. However, you’re also participating in one of the most sensitive industries on the planet.
While you’ve worked diligently to ensure HIPAA compliance, lack of attention to ADA compliance could get you into legal trouble – and it may also diminish your marketing success when it comes to patients or clients with disabilities.
ADA regulations aren’t all that different from HIPAA
Before, healthcare businesses focused on ADA compliance in terms of brick-and-mortar architecture and design; are there enough ramps? Automatic doors? Elevator options? Widened doors and hallways? Accessible toilets and sinks? Adequate lighting? Clear signage? This was enough.
Now, ADA regulators are turning to the digital world and applying similar compliance guidelines.
Ultimately, the primary goal of ADA-friendly business is to prevent any evidence of discrimination against those with disabilities. Failure to do so is a legal offense. As proof of that, we offer you the 800+ website accessibility lawsuits filed in 2017, and recent reports indicate even more lawsuits are in motion from 2018.
According to the Bureau of Internet Accessibility, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has, “made it clear that the ADA also extends to people’s right to fully access and use the internet and online services.”
Focus points for an ADA-accessible website
When we review the cases in question, lawsuits have some thematic similarities. Paying attention to these will help your company – or your client – stay out of trouble. And, of course, it will expand your happy, satisfied prospect-base.
Is your website accessible to those with visual impairments?
Visual impairments run the gamut from minor vision prescriptions to legally blind. In cases where vision loss is more moderate to severe – prospects and patients may use screen readers.
Screen readers are software programs that convert text-to-voice or to text-to-braille formats. However, these high-tech tools are only as effective as a website design accommodates them. A non-ADA compliant website means screen readers will produce a bunch of gobbledygook for the user.
An ADA-accessible website for the blind (aka a screen reader-accessible site) should have:
- A clear, navigable format
- Properly tagged images and headings
- Formats and headings that don’t distract from the content
- Intuitively labeled buttons
- Offers multiple “Contact Us” options
- Use simple English
Sound familiar? All of those are a part of smart web design anyway!
Similarly, those with learning disabilities struggle to navigate websites produced without the tenets listed above, so adhering to an accessible website design that complies with screen reading needs supports those with other limitations as well.
Is your website fluid enough to accommodate a range of disabilities?
Of course, vision impairment is just one of the audiences negatively impacted by poor website design. There is also a range of other disabilities that make it difficult for the public to get what they need from your site. The more fluid and adaptable your website is, the better.
Designing a healthcare website accessible to all also includes the ability to:
- Change the background colors if the text is difficult to read
- Change text size
- Increase line spacing for easier scannability
- Pause, rewind, slow down and/or restart audio or video components, so they’re easier to follow
- Silence background sounds or music
Videos may not be as compelling as you thought
While it’s true that videos yield quick, impactful communication – it’s only true for those who can hear and/or view them.
- Offer closed-captions and transcriptions for video content, so deaf prospects can read the dialogue and have a deeper connection to visual cues.
- Provide attractive (not the impersonal computer voice) sound files for important text such as patient testimonials, physician/clinician bios, and interactive content.
Accessible for one means accessible for all
The great news is that accessibility for one means accessibility for all. Your company’s diligence in designing an über-friendly and accessible website means minimal to zero- redesign requirements to ensure all users can engage with your business.