Can you imagine a doctor’s office bathroom without a handicap stall? What about a hospital with no elevators? Just like your brick-and-mortar healthcare practice, you should be optimizing your website to be ADA compliant.
Providing navigable websites for people with disabilities is not only a societal necessity like handicap-only parking spots, it’s also now considered a path to optimizing the user experience for every visitor your site receives.
What an ADA-Compliant Website Looks Like
As a healthcare provider you can’t afford to have your website non-Americans with Disabilities (ADA) compliant anymore. ADA might not technically be a law that applies to all websites – yet, but wouldn’t you rather be on the side of pioneering a new era of ADA-compliant websites?
In your office, ADA compliance might be a handicap button next to the door or signs with braille. On the internet, ADA compliance includes things such as providing alt-text for images, properly labeling content, and navigation tweaks like being able to use only a keyboard to get around a site.
There are a number of resources with incredibly detailed information surrounding Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) – consider this blog more of an overview.
The WCAG breaks it down into four categories. In general, an ADA-compliant website will be:
- and robust.
“Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.”
Because there are a variety of disabilities and levels of severity for each, a website designer needs to keep the user interface simple.
Here are some steps you can take to make your website more perceivable:
- Use alt-text on an image. This gives the user an opportunity to have the computer read what’s in an image.
- Add captions to video or audio content. For users who are hard of hearing, captions on videos means they can still follow along with what is happening.
- Use right text sizes and colors for visually impaired and color blind users. Check out this great tool to see if your color scheme is accessible for text.
“User interface components and navigation must be operable.”
To keep your website operable, make sure that anyone can navigate the content without tricks or limits.
Here are some steps you can take to make your website more operable:
- Make sure your website is navigable with only a keyboard.
- Something as simple as proper section headings makes your website more operable. Use section headings to break up the content in a logical manner.
- Try not to include content with time limits on your website. If you must, make it so the user can adjust the time limit to their needs.
“Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.”
Hopefully this is something you’re already trying to achieve with your website. But there are certain aspects you can implement to make it easier for users to understand, across the board.
Here are some steps you can take to make your website more understandable:
- Expand abbreviations and have a way for users to identify unusual words, idioms or jargon. If you have a definition for something not everyone knows, link to a definition of it.
- When a user inputs information, the form should make it easy to identify errors and prompt the user to check the information they entered if it seems incorrect. You’ve probably seen this on websites asking you to check your email address, for example.
- You should have predictable, consistent navigation throughout your website.
“Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted by by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.”
This is difficult because the internet is always changing, and we just try to keep up. If you’re going to have a website, the code needs to be solid.
Here are some steps you can take to make your website more robust:
- Your HTML shouldn’t have any broken parameters or inconsistent tags.
- If your website has added elements, like a form, you’ll want to make sure each fill area has a name, a role and a value.
Why Should MY Website Be Compliant?
Regardless of what type of healthcare you specialize in, you will have patients/customers with disabilities and physical or sensory challenges. Is it possible for blind people to use your site? Have you thought about someone with dyslexia trying to fill out an address form – what might that feel like for them?
Ultimately, adopting a lot of these accessibility tips will make your website well-rounded and polished for all users, and hopefully, for years to come.
There are over 50 ways you can implement ADA-compliant changes to your website using the WCAG, and each one makes your site better. We know them all.