The internet has become an extremely effective way for medical practices to cast a wider net. It allows patients to discover your services, book appointments, and communicate with you and your staff. However, if your website isn’t accessible to people with disabilities, you’re not catering to many who may need your medical care. Furthermore, The recent rise in ADA web accessibility lawsuits targeting physicians makes this a top priority to address.
If you’re in the business of medical practice, you probably have some very good questions by now. After all, 1 out of 4 Americans has a disability. As you wouldn't leave anyone unable to enter your physical practice, it shouldn't be different from your practice's website. Let's jump right to business:
First and foremost, 3 reasons why making your practice’s website accessible is important now, more than ever.
1. Web accessibility increases your client base and boosts your reputation.
The digital age has changed the way patients find new doctors and communicate with their current ones, and since people with disabilities make up 25% of the population and their medical needs vary widely, your practice’s website must be accessible to them. Making your website accessible doesn’t just increase your practice’s visibility and potential to reach new customers; it also boosts your reputation as an inclusive practice among all potential patients reading about your services.
2. Mitigate the legal risk of web accessibility lawsuits and litigation.
Just recently, the California Medical Association (CMA) alerted members that ADA lawsuits are targeting California physicians. To quote the CMA, “The California Medical Association (CMA) has received reports that small and solo medical practices, especially in Southern California, have been sued for alleged violations of the ADA and the Unruh Civil Rights Act.” As web accessibility is a civil right protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state-level discrimination acts such as the Unruh Act, a California law that prohibits any business in California from engaging in unlawful discrimination against all persons, including people with disabilities - it should be addressed sooner than later.
3. It’s the right thing to do, plain and simple.
If you’re in the business of helping people, then making your medical practice’s website accessible does just that. Web accessibility removes obstacles and barriers for people with disabilities and opens opportunities for improved health, elective procedures, and the ability to find something in their price range. Whether you are a family doctor, a dentist, a plastic surgeon, or medical insurance business, all medical practitioners have the moral responsibility to be available and accessible to people with disabilities.
What now? Simply check if your website is accessible and compliant
The truth is unless you’ve already taken active steps to make sure your website is accessible, it most probably isn’t. That’s because most websites aren’t built with accessibility in mind, whether you hired an agency to do it for you or used a content management system. In fact, only 2% of websites are currently accessible to people with disabilities and compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Fortunately, with a click of a button, you can check if your website is accessible. There are great web accessibility testing tools available for websites of all sizes that help you instantly determine your website’s level of accessibility and compliance.
aCe by accessiBe is a comprehensive testing tool that gives you results within seconds. It’s completely free and private, and you can download the audit and share it with your team.
If your medical practice’s website isn’t accessible and compliant yet, here are some practical options for you
The good news is that web accessibility solutions have evolved. But there are really two ways to go about it:
If you have an accessibility developer on staff, you can equip them with the report you downloaded from aCe to help them understand what needs to be addressed and remediated. Outsourcing an accessibility expert to remediate your website and also keep it accessible as time goes by is an option for practices and businesses that can allocate the resources needed for manual development.
A different approach to this is using automated solutions such as accessiBe. After a simple 2 minute installation, it will make your website accessible within 48 hours and offer a personalized experience to patients who need specific adjustments. More than that, accessiBe’s automation ensures round-the-clock audits and remediation so that any change or update made to your website (e.g., a new blog post, icons, images) will also be accessible and compliant. The automatic approach will probably be better for small and solo medical practices that don't have a minute to spare.
Learn more about making your practice’s website accessible here