Digital Accessibility In Healthcare

Healthcare is an essential part of life, and the ability to easily access information from healthcare providers is not only a basic human right, but it’s the law. If accessibility matters anywhere, it matters most on a healthcare website. Many people in the U.S. experience challenges to accessing quality medical care, and people with disabilities who cannot interact with websites in a typical fashion often have an even harder time.

Under Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, healthcare organizations are required to make their information and communications technology (ICT) accessible to people with disabilities. This includes websites, web applications, software, and hardware. Many healthcare organizations must also comply with non-discrimination rules under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Whether you work for a hospital, doctor’s office, insurance company, surgery center, or any other company that provides healthcare to patients, you’re legally obligated to make your website, mobile applications, and other software accessible to people with disabilities.

Our accessibility team will work with you to solve problems, break down barriers, and ensure that your website and software is up to date with current healthcare accessibility standards and laws.

Document Your Digital Assets with a VPAT

Any healthcare organization faces incredibly stringent accessibility requirements. If you are working with the Federal Government or any organization that receives government funding, you will need to get a VPAT for all of your digital properties. Whether that is your website, mobile app, or customer portal, they all must have a VPAT, documenting their accessibility. The best way to secure a VPAT is by hiring a trained consultantto conduct VPAT Testing on your digital asset. ADACP can help.

Avoid Lawsuits & Attract Patients

Every year thousands of digital accessibility lawsuits are filed against businesses and each year the lawsuit volume rises by over 30%. Healthcare is one of the industries most targeted.

Healthcare practices and organizations are sued frequently by web users who allege that there are site-use access barriers for those with disabilities and impairments that violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and various state laws. 

digital accessibility in healthcare

Those caught up in these lawsuits can pay big monetary settlements and be bound by the settlement agreements to make specific changes to their websites.

The ADA and various state laws include provisions requiring businesses to remove access barriers, so that users with disabilities and impairments have equal access to goods and services. While laws are not explicit about website accommodations, courts have considered these internet properties as an extension of the business and have ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

Heathcare Accessibility: smart business, ethical business

Aside from any legal risks, many healthcare organizations view website accessibility as smart business and the ethical thing to do. Advantages include:

  • Funding opportunities, contracts and government programs can be taken away when a healthcare website is not sufficiently accessible. The government takes accessibility seriously and demands anyone working with them to do so as well.
  • Happy patients are returning patients. When a patient, regardless of limitations can seamlessly access their information or engage with your website, it will make them happy. And as Baby Boomers age, they are acquiring new disabilities and having a fully accessible website ensures patients can continue to use your website despite these challenges.
  • Public relations and reputation management. Positive interaction with a website leaves a good impression. When you attain a fully accessible website, it shows you value inclusivity.
  • Digital Accessibility boosts your Return on Investment (ROI). Beyond access for your patients, your website is how you market yourself. Google and other search engines recognize when a website is optimized for accessibility and reward site owners with better placement in search results. They also penalize websites for not being accessible.
  • Target market expansion. The largest minority group in the U.S. is the disabled, with over 50 million people. Ensuring they can all access your website is simply good business.

Accessibility Solutions: Manual Audits vs. Automated Scans

The best way to gain a complete understanding of how accessible your website is and make sure that all the accessibility issues are addressed is to hire an expert who uses both automated and manual accessibility testing.

It’s unfortunate that many companies, keen to get into the ADA market as lawsuit threats continue to grow, tout automated software scans as a comprehensive solution when the AI is only capable of catching approximately 30% of non-compliant issues. In order to truly ensure ADA compliance, you must include a live audit, in which a trained technician tests your website for all the requirements.

Manual Audits vs. Automated Scans

Trained accessibility consultants can provide the guidance that institutions need to find all conformance issues and create appropriate remediation strategies. Testing should include both manual and automatic testing.

ADACP – Here To Help

With over a decade of experience, we are ready to deliver a hands-on approach to ensure that your institution meets the required compliance for web accessibility. We will work hard to ensure your website is compliant according to all required guidelines. Our Accessibility Team is composed of professional and skilled technicians who offer white glove support through the duration of the audit process. Although auditing digital products is complex, our quality of service is top-notch and our team does not rely solely on automated software scans because they are not enough to protect you from lawsuits or ensure your website gets sufficiently compliant.