Healthcare providers, both private and public, are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to offer equal access to healthcare services and facilities, including websites and other digital information. To ensure that you are complying with the provisions of the act, ADA compliance testing is, to say the least, “recommended.”
With healthcare costs for people with disabilities reported to comprise 26.7% of all healthcare costs in the country, totaling approximately $400 billion per year, doing so makes sense from both a business and regulatory standpoint—And not doing so clearly impacts an enormous portion of patients who need healthcare services.
Given that not all websites have taken the steps necessary to make them accessible to people with disabilities, making their website ADA compliant offers healthcare providers the opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Barriers to Access
There has been significant publicity, in recent years, relating to the need to comply with Title III of the ADA, which states that places offering public accommodation must remove “access barriers” that would prevent a person with disabilities from accessing an organization’s services or products.
What constitutes a barrier to access?
One example would be if an individual who is blind is unable to use screen-reading technology because a website hasn’t been designed to accommodate such software. Another would be if a person with a hearing disorder had to watch an instructional video with no closed captioning provided.
Those don’t seem like user-friendly experiences, do they?
Similarly, a patient with manual dexterity challenges is likely to become frustrated using a website that doesn’t accommodate assistive technology.
Enhancing the Patient Experience with ADA Compliance Testing
If your website has barriers that prevent people with disabilities from easily accessing it, performing ADA compliance testing can help improve the patient experience. Following are four ways in which ADA compliance testing to make sure a website is compliant with WCAG 2.0 (Website Content Accessibility Guidelines):
- Making sure your website can be navigated solely by keyboard. People whose physical disabilities prevent them from using a mouse will find your website difficult to use unless you have tested it to ensure that users can access all functionality (browsing, purchasing, accessing links, etc.) with just the keyboard.
- Selecting a proper contrast ratio between your site’s text and its background. Patients with visual impairments can find it difficult to make out the text on your site if you haven’t tested the contrast ratio to ensure it meets minimum visibility standards.
- Testing your website’s text-scaling capability. To ensure maximum accessibility for readers, test your website to verify that it can process text scaling to as high as 200% without this causing horizontal scrolling or other layout problems that make it hard to read your site’s content.
- Verify that your site works with screen reader software. This type of software converts the text on your website into a form (such as text-to-speech) that can be understood by people with visual impairments. Testing your site to make sure that it can accommodate such software is crucial to staying in compliance with the ADA’s accessibility requirements.
Testing all of the above aspects of your website’s functionality enables you to make improvements where necessary, so it is easier for people with disabilities to use your site. This, in turn, can significantly improve the patient experience for those users.
Benefits of Improving the Patient Experience for People with Disabilities
There are a number of benefits you can derive from testing your site to make sure it is accessible to people with disabilities. These include:
- Reduce any potential legal liability: There have been a number of instances of patients or patient groups suing healthcare providers who failed to comply with the ADA. By testing your site to ensure that it is in compliance with the ADA, you can reduce the likelihood of being sued for noncompliance.
- Boost your potential customer base: There are over 50 million people in the U.S. with disabilities, according to the United States Census Bureau. By making sure your website is easy for them to use, you instantly increase the number of patients you can serve.
- Improve patient loyalty: Patients with disabilities who already work with your organization are likely to appreciate your efforts to make sure they can easily access information related to their care online. Doing so can enhance patient loyalty, helping you keep patients happy (and less likely to look elsewhere to meet their healthcare needs).
- Enhance search engine optimization (SEO) efforts: When patients search for your category of healthcare, the higher your organization’s name is on the list, the more likely it is that web searchers will contact you.
Search engines gauge a site’s accessibility to users, among other factors, when determining how high a site rates in their rankings. By taking the necessary steps to make your website easily accessible by people with disabilities, you can also boost your site’s ranking with the search engines, helping you attract more business.
Start Your Website Compliance Check
Not sure if your website’s compliant with ADA? User1st takes the first step towards compliance for you by analyzing your website to identify accessibility issues. Find out how accessible your website is today.