The Internet is a wonderful addition to the innovative and progressive 21st century, and it should remain as fantastic as it is for every single individual.
In order to become a better and fairer playing field, the Internet is bound to have a set of ground rules for every user in the world.
Authorities have brought this concept into reality by setting a series of guidelines that essentially improve the accessibility to information on the Internet for everyone. These sets of rules are outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Although the ADA became law in 1990 and was revised in 1991, the Department of Justice released the ADA Standards for Accessible Design which stated that all electronic and information technology must be available for use by people with disabilities in 2010.
Not only does the ADA protect the disabled population from discrimination, but the law also protects companies (because…it’s the law). Prominent businesses, including Reebok, Estee Lauder, and Ace Hardware, have been sued on the account of their website not being ADA compliant.
Since people with disabilities are known to frequent healthcare websites, many healthcare focused websites, as well as websites of healthcare companies, have been sued for not following ADA compliance rules.
ADA is perhaps the best requirement that any company can ask for due to the simplicity of following its guidelines and its sheer importance for the entire disabled community. Being ADA compliant also speaks well for the reputation of a company.
Businesses can avoid extremely costly lawsuits, a negative reputation, loss of customers, profit, and potential funding from other agencies while knowing full well that no laws – or morals, for that matter – are broken.
According to Digital Authority Partners, making a website ADA compliant is the number one priority for a company, especially a healthcare agency because “it’s the right thing to do”.
Knowing an ADA compliant website is not a difficult task; in fact, it is as simple as making an ADA compliant website in the first place.
Here are some elements of an ADA compliant website to look for as a regular user:
- Screen Readers
A screen reader assists the visually impaired while navigating through websites by reading the information available out loud to them. Some screen readers can actually convert text to a Braille display.
Information should be delivered without strain for every single individual utilizing a website, and a screen reader is vital for the disabled community.
Multiple companies have failed to install a screen reader, and have faced consequences. ADA compliance for healthcare websites becomes especially important, as their customer base mostly includes the disabled community.
The Andres Gomez vs CAC Florida Medical Center lawsuit focused on Gomez, a visually impaired individual, who claimed that the healthcare agency’s website was unable to access the screen reader.
Even though the case was dismissed by the judge, the lawsuit is still one of the more prominent examples of the multitude of legalities dismissed by businesses to help the disabled population.
This assistive element is one of the key features of an ADA compliant website.
- Keyboard Navigation
Many disabled people can benefit from more keyboard-friendly websites,
and this is an important function for being ADA compliant.
First, a website should be able to work without a mouse and easy to navigate with only a keyboard, if required. Some of the functions that should be retrievable with a
keyboard are accessing links, content, and various pages.
Perhaps one of the most popular uses is making the Tab key as a source of navigation
through the website.
There are other assistive technologies that help the disabled community, including
eye-tracking technology, joysticks, and sip-and-puff technology.
The eye-tracking tech allows readers to control the website with eye movement, which
can be beneficial for the visually impaired.
Joysticks can substitute the mouse altogether, and still follow the guidelines outlined
Sip-and-puff technology serves a similar purpose as the two mentioned before through
inhalation and exhalation.
Even with all of these assistive technologies available aside from a typical keyboard, companies have faced civil lawsuits regarding the lack of keyboard navigation. The lawsuit involving HCA Holdings, Inc. claims that the healthcare agency failed to support keyboard navigation within HCA-owned hospitals and websites; the case is still open.
Keyboard navigations sound – and is – a simple addition to a website, and it just so happens to follow the regulations under ADA standards.
- Alt Text for All Images
Adding alternative text for images is a great plus for a website, especially when
attempting to make the platform ADA compliant.
This element provides an opportunity for the company to upload a description of an image that essentially gives context to those users who may have missed the idea initially.
There are a lot of assistive functions that help people absorb information, one example being – Magnifiers. Magnifiers simply magnify text as the name suggests, and give the visually impaired clear readability.
Picking colors, specifically for the purpose of finding a balance in contrast between the text and other elements displayed on the website, is a great technique to make sure the website is accessible and readable by all people.
A lawsuit involving HCA Holdings Inc. highlights the lack of alt text on images, thus making the healthcare agency liable with yet another feature that should be on a website under the ADA law.
This particular element is very easy to incorporate into a website and should not be missed out on.
To summarize, ADA compliance is super easy and affordable, as well as beneficial in the long run for both parties involved.
Making a website ADA compliant is cost-effective, moral, legal, and promotes the business and reputation of the company as a whole through the eyes of other corporations and the overall public.
If your website does not follow some of the key features of being ADA compliant mentioned above, expand your knowledge regarding the matter. If you do not have the time to work on it yourself, it is definitely worth it to hire an expert instead of losing thousands of dollars on a lawsuit.
This article was contributed by Julian Gnatenco @ JGBilling