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Unfortunately, the internet still has a long way to go before it can be considered entirely inclusive and accessible to individuals with disabilities. In fact, 97.8 percent of the top 1 million most visited homepages on the internet have web accessibility failures, which means that many users may not be able to interact or engage with these sites and utilize their services.
So, what does web accessibility encompass, and why is it especially critical for medical clinics to make efforts to guarantee that all of their patients receive an equal service online? Let’s find out.
What does web accessibility mean?
Web accessibility involves ensuring that your website and mobile apps are accessible to all users. Content should be available from all angles, which entails ensuring that your patients with disabilities, including those with visual, hearing, motor, or cognitive impairments, are not excluded from being able to navigate through your online services. Not only will this limit your exposure to potential lawsuits and litigations due to Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) violations, but it will also enhance the experience for all patients and users of your site.
The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) defines web accessibility as a “means that people with disabilities can use the Web. More specifically, Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web and that they can contribute to the Web. Web accessibility also benefits others, including older people with changing abilities due to aging.”
The W3 also publishes a set of universal web accessibility guidelines called the WCAG 2.1, which covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. They assess the accessibility of websites using the following four principles:
- Perceivable: All users must be able to perceive the information on your website.
- Operable: All users must be able to operate the interface despite their ability level
- Understandable: All users must be able to understand and comprehend the content.
- Robust: Users must be able to access the content with a wide range of accessibility tools, such as voice navigation.
Let’s take a look at three reasons why web accessibility should be top of your priority list if you run a medical clinic:
1 – Lawsuits are on the rise
Unfortunately, we are currently on pace for a record-setting year regarding web accessibility lawsuits in the USA. At the moment, a little over one accessibility case is being brought against non-compliant websites every hour.
The fact of the matter is that companies, including medical clinics, simply have to choose between investing resources to ensure their site is compliant or run the risk of incurring the expense of a digital lawsuit being brought against them by a plaintiff law firm.
2 – It’s the right thing to do for your patients
Over one-fifth of Americans have some form of disability, according to the CDC. That’s a large percentage of the population that you could be excluding from your medical services if you do not maintain an accessible website. As a healthcare provider, you have a duty and an obligation to your patients, which is why establishing a fully accessible website is simply the right thing to do.
3 – Digital transformation is changing customer expectations
Thanks to the global pandemic, many industries are experiencing rapid digital transformation as consumers’ demands/needs are shifting. These days, customers expect to be able to carry out the vast majority of their interaction with businesses online, and medical clinics are no different.
As a result, healthcare institutions must do what they can to ensure the best digital experience possible for their users. Many medical clinics have implemented features on their website to enhance their patients’ experience, and they include:
- Booking appointments online
- Conducting virtual appointments with doctors and physicians
- Receiving diagnoses and treatments online
- Emailing with staff members for queries and concerns
How to make your website accessible
For most businesses, achieving a fully accessible website seems like a mammoth task, especially if you already have a large website with heaps of content and countless pages to trawl through. Sadly, most clinics are too busy dealing with patients to attribute resources toward the manual, line-by-line remediation of their website, which is one of the primary reasons the Web remains largely inaccessible.
So what can you do to fix this? Well, the first option would be to hire a specialist web developer who will do all of the hard work for you – just be warned, this will usually cost you somewhere between $3,000 to $50,000 depending on the size of your website.
Fortunately, there is now a much more straightforward and cost-effective option: accessiBe’s automated solution. This exciting startup has developed a solution that utilizes advanced AI technology and machine learning that makes sites entirely accessible, in a quick, affordable, and automated fashion.
Once implemented, their interface will appear and users can customize their experience with the ability to change contrast levels, pause flashing elements, and more.
The AI continually sweeps through your website every 24 hours searching for newly added content that may not be accessible, meaning you are never exposed to lawsuits due to ADA or WCAG violations.
In short, accessiBe combines two applications to accomplish complete web compliance on your website. All User Interfaces and design-related modifications are handled by the accessibility interface, while the AI-powered background process handles the more sophisticated needs, such as screen-reader optimization and keyboard navigation. This saves companies from investing thousands of dollars (and many weeks) and finally puts web accessibility in the reach of all organizations regardless of size.
Along with all of the benefits listed above, medical clinics that take the time to put provisions in place for users with disabilities automatically open up their service to a much wider audience, which may help to increase revenue. As such, web accessibility isn’t just a moral obligation, it’s smart business sense.
Finally, taking a stance on accessibility and being seen to invest resources towards creating a more inclusive service will do wonders for your practice’s image. After all, as a medical clinic, you are expected and legally required, to provide equal and fair service to all of your patients.