Posted on April 9, 2020 in General
How To Make Sure Your Website Is ADA Compliant
We’re willing to bet you know all about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and have made the necessary steps to make sure your healthcare practice is ADA compliant.
Except for one area, potentially — your website.
That’s right — under Title III of the ADA, your website is included as a “place of public accommodation.” That means your website needs to be able to meet specific requirements for the vision impaired.
What exactly does this mean, and how can you make sure your website is ADA compliant? Let’s take a look.
What Does The ADA Say Regarding Websites?
Nothing, technically. However, the ADA is a strict liability law that has been interpreted by U.S. courts to include websites. If a website is found to be non-compliant, it is easy for a lawyer to file suit against significant inaccessible components and argue that they are discriminatory against persons with disabilities. Non-compliant websites, therefore, are in violation of Title III of the ADA.
Since healthcare practices, in particular, are in the business of catering to the disabled, your website must be ADA compliant. According to the ADA, there are no excuses or defenses for violations. If you are non-compliant, you are subject to penalties.
The problem is, the ADA does not provide any clear definition or outline to follow for how to make sure your website is accessible. To ensure you’re compliant, you’ll need to use another source. Courts and the Department of Justice (DOJ) often point to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA success criteria to judge whether or not your website is compliant.
What Is WCAG?
A less-than-ideal acronym, for starters.
WCAG is not a law, but since courts and the DOJ cite it during suits, it’s certainly a valuable reference for businesses and healthcare practices to follow. There is no exact answer as to what is required when it comes to web accessibility, but complying with WCAG can be considered a best practice.
The problem with WCAG is that it is laced with technical jargon and difficult to understand. You’re reading that correctly — the guidelines that courts point to for accessibility requirements do not help to provide clarity. Lucky for you, we’re here to help.
How To Follow WCAG Guidelines
Buckle up for this one: The WCAG 2.0 AA success criteria, which also includes level A, is made up of 38 requirements.
If your website meets all 38 success criteria, you’re in perfect shape for compliance. But the good news is that you may be fine even if you don’t meet all 38. Despite things seeming to be rigid, you have a decent amount of flexibility when it comes to web accessibility and effective communication.
Wait a minute, “effective communication?” What’s that?
“Effective communication” is what is the language used to define a compliant website. Your website has a purpose, and if your pages and content effectively communicate that message to those with disabilities, then your site is in good standing with the ADA.
Now, we’re not going to sort our way through all 38 items here — that would be an incredibly long post. (You can certainly feel free to pore over all 38 WCAG accessibility guidelines.) But here are a few big ones to make sure your website follows.
- Alt Text — easy to spot, easy to fix. Change your alt attribute, so it conveys the meaning of an image and fix your code, so it includes a text description of what the images are. That’s right — some people read that code!
- Closed Captioning — on that note, make sure your videos have closed captioning on them. If you host any content on YouTube, it is quite simple to add closed captions to your videos.
- Make your website fully-accessible by using a keyboard only — This means you can unplug your mouse and still be able to navigate and make full use of your website.
- Coding labels for form fields — this helps screen readers read your website. Program your forms in-field labels such as “first name”, ETC.
- Use descriptive anchor text for your links — this is a good strategy for your SEO as well, not just your web accessibility. Make your anchor text descriptive of what the linked page is about, not only something like “click here” or “view more.”
- Fix your headings — make sure your headings and sub-headings are set up correctly so that your content is properly organized. Use your h1, h2.
Making your website, ADA compliant may not be a quick fix — prepare for it to be a lengthy and tedious process. But it’s best you stay ahead of a potentially harmful situation if you are found to be non-compliant. It’s especially not a good look for a healthcare practice!
Active lawsuits are everywhere, and you don’t want to be part of one. If you don’t know where to start, get in touch with MDprospects today. We’d be happy to help connect you with a partner that can help you find your way.