Ensuring Digital Accessibility in Healthcare: Legal Issues, Opportunity, and Tips

Ensuring Digital Accessibility in Healthcare: Legal Issues, Opportunity, and Tips

The end of September marks International Week of the Deaf, followed soon after by Blind Americans Equality Day. Both observances serve as reminders of the importance of making online resources accessible to all individuals. Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is crucial for organizations, particularly healthcare entities and systems. Non-compliance can lead to legal issues, penalties, and missed opportunities for growth and innovation. Moreover, accessibility is key to improving healthcare services and patient outcomes.

Lawsuits related to ADA compliance have been on the rise, with an increase of 12% in 2022 compared to the previous year. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the significant gaps in online accessibility for healthcare concerns and other essential services. Legal cases such as Domino’s Pizza versus Robles have brought attention to the issue, leading to higher settlements and a growing demand for change.

Investing in accessibility is not just a legal requirement but also a strategic move. By 2025, more than 80% of digital workplace app leaders are expected to prioritize accessibility when making technology investments. This is driven by the business value it offers. Research shows that every dollar invested in web accessibility and user experience yields a return of $100. Additionally, people with disabilities represent a significant market, with a collective annual spending of nearly $2 trillion globally.

Digital accessibility is crucial for reaching and engaging this large audience. Being ADA compliant not only attracts individuals with disabilities but also their network of friends and family. Organizations that prioritize accessibility are also more likely to attract investors interested in diversity, equity, inclusion, and sustainability.

Becoming digitally accessible does not have to be a costly and complex process. Simple steps can be taken to improve accessibility without additional expenses. For example, using headings in web content helps users of screen readers and search engines navigate and understand the content better. Adding alt text to images and providing transcripts for videos also enhances accessibility and search engine optimization.

There are various tools available to assess and improve digital accessibility, such as screen readers, automated evaluation tools, and visual simulators. These tools help identify areas where websites may not meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) criteria.

Creating a culture of accessibility within organizations is essential. This can be achieved by forming internal committees, promoting ongoing dialogue, and integrating accessibility into content development and marketing processes. Participating in events like International Week of the Deaf and Blind Americans Equality Day can also demonstrate a commitment to accessibility and inclusivity.

In conclusion, ensuring digital accessibility is crucial for healthcare organizations. It not only helps comply with legal requirements but also opens doors to new opportunities and improves patient outcomes. By investing in accessibility, organizations can reach a larger audience, attract diverse investors, and foster a culture of inclusion and equity.

– Ben Cash, Reason One
– Seyfarth Shaw, ADA Lawsuit Report
– Gartner
– Forrester Research

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