When you think of the ADA or AwDA – Americans with Disabilities Act – you probably think of the physical world. Handicapped parking spots, ramps to get in and out of buildings, elevators where necessary, and crosswalks that talk. All of these help to accommodate the needs of those who have disabilities, so they can enjoy independence. And while the AwDA clearly prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities when it comes to transportation, communications, governmental activities, and public accommodation, the act itself does not mention websites or mobile sites.
Whether websites fall under the AwDA has been a point of contention for the courts, however, accessibility is something that’s becoming increasingly more important to consider in medical website design. The general rule is that if your website is linked to a brick and mortar facility, then it falls under the AwDA.
A recent case of a visually impaired man suing a Domino’s Pizza in California brought to light where this falls. Essentially, the plaintiff argued that Domino’s failed to create a website that was independently usable by himself. And while Domino’s won the case on the premise of due process, an important lesson can be learned: businesses that operate brick and mortar facilities, like dental practices and medical offices, would be wise to follow guidelines set forth by WCAG 2.0AA or AAA, developed by the W3C.
What is web accessibility?
Imagine being blind or deaf and trying to find a dentist through a simple online search. With today’s technology, visually impaired individuals can navigate the world with ease. With a lot of our world now existing between the physical world, it can be incredibly frustrating to suddenly feel locked out.
Accessibility ensures people can access your website and navigate it to accomplish their goals. Think of it as removing barriers to your website. For those who are visually impaired that means being able to use a screen reader to have web content read to them, proper descriptions and alt tags attached to images. For those that are hearing impaired, you’ll want to make sure videos are properly captioned and transcripts are available.
You wouldn’t make it difficult for someone to get to your medical practice because they’re in a wheelchair, so why would you make it hard to schedule an appointment or get information on what your practice offers? By integrating accessibility standards into your website design you’re including a large portion of the population who is in need of your services and care.
How can I make my dental website accessible?
An accessible dental website will ensure that potential patients and patients visiting your website have an enjoyable experience. The key to website design for dental practices is to eliminate frustrations or limitations to those who are disabled.
It’s common to offer some sort of free PDF download as a lead magnet. If you’re going to offer a PDF, however, it’s important that the PDF be arranged in a way that is accessible. Screen readers read documents in a specific pattern, so arranging and labeling content to be read in the proper order by a screen reader is crucial. Additionally, all images should be labeled with a clear description that is different from the alt tag.
All images should include a clear description and an alt tag that is different. Alt tags are typically visible when the automatic image loading feature is turned off. These are commonly used for SEO purposes, which is why it’s important to make sure it differs from the description. Imagine how frustrating it would be to have a screen reader read the same thing over and over. This is what would happen if your alt tag and description are the same.
All links should be labeled clearly so that they can be understood when read in or out of context. This includes links that open in a new window, outbound links, and internal links.
Whether you upload your videos to YouTube or Vimeo or simply upload them directly to your website, it’s important to ensure you have captions on every video you create. This helps to ensure those who are hearing impaired can read what your video is about.
Certain color combinations and website effects can actually trigger things like epileptic seizures, headaches, and more. By understanding what color combinations to avoid, you can make your website easier to read for those with poor vision.
When working on website design for healthcare professionals, font size is a small, but crucial component to recognize. From a general user perspective you want to avoid making fonts too small, but when it comes to meeting the needs of visitors with disabilities you want to provide additional font size options.
Thinking About Accessibility
When thinking about accessibility, images and videos are just the tip of the iceberg. A well thought out website design that’s accessible should be thoroughly reviewed to make sure it meets all standards. Your medical practice website must be accessible. Without accessibility you’re eliminating an entire audience that likely needs your services. Just as you wouldn’t make it difficult for people in wheelchairs to get into your practice or access your restrooms, you wouldn’t want to limit their access to your website, where they learn about who you are, what you offer, and have an opportunity to reach out to you.
With everything there is to consider about accessibility and designing a website, it can be overwhelming to tackle it on your own. It takes planning and a total understanding of what exactly is involved in making your website accessible. For those who don’t have that experience opting for a solution like our Accessibility Module, ADApt™ will help to keep your business up to par with today’s standards, without complicating the design experience.
ADApt makes it possible for those in need of accessibility accommodations to have an enjoyable experience on your website at the click of a button. This button is placed at the lower right-hand corner of the screen, yet is obvious enough that people who need it can access it.
For additional information on Optimized360’s Accessibility Module ADApt, please click here.