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Bringing Accessibility to Healthcare Websites

by Michelle McNally | Feb 25, 2022, 05:08 AM
Physicians using tablets to work on digital marketing

In the modern world, digital resources are the norm. There is never-ending information readily available to anyone who can access the internet from a device. However, available does not necessarily mean accessible. The need for accessibility for those with disabilities has spurred significant action, such as the integration of wheelchair ramps, interpreters for the hard of hearing, and many more innovations that acknowledge the rights of people with disabilities. Now the conversation is turning to web accessibility. If you work in the healthcare industry, then you already have an understanding of the importance of accessibility, but you may not know why accessibility is important for your website. 

What does “web accessibility” mean?

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) defines web accessibility as “websites, tools, and technologies [that] are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them.” In other words, you’re making your website more inclusive for all visitors. Instead of simply claiming that anyone can access the Internet, you’re making it possible. This empowers people with limited vision, physical impairments, hearing problems, and beyond when they browse the web.

Who benefits from an accessible website? 

Accessibility works on multiple levels. Of course, an accessible website will benefit those with disabilities. However, there are some unexpected bonuses that extend beyond those who would say they have a disability. For example, healthcare websites often have a large number of visitors who are older. Vision often deteriorates with age, and typing can become painful if someone has arthritis or other joint problems. Older individuals can benefit from accessibility adaptations that help those with poor eyesight and that help those with physical limitations. Another unexpected benefit is improved accessibility for those who are using different devices to access the web that may have smaller screens, like a cell phone or smartwatch. 

What does accessibility look like on a website? 

Your website will need functionality adaptations in order to be considered accessible. These focus on making the content navigable and understandable in a variety of ways instead of presenting it in a singular format. One common accessibility addition is called alt text. Alt text is a verbal description of an image. Think of it as a short caption that quickly captures the essence of the image on the screen. Another tool is in-sync captioning for any video content. This is helpful both for limited vision and limited hearing because many individuals with disabilities use software that reads a web page to them. Another important feature is compatibility with voice-control systems. The list goes on, so it helps to consult someone familiar with creating accessible websites. 

Why is web accessibility a smart business move? 

Making your website accessible creates an opportunity for you to tap into a massive audience. According to the  CDC, approximately 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. have a disability of some kind. If you have a healthcare website of any kind, then you have even more relevant statistics to consider. The CDC notes that 2 in 5 adults over the age of 65 describe themselves as having a disability. Even more significantly, of the 61 million adults with a disability in the U.S., 1 in 3 between the ages of 18 and 44 “do not have a usual healthcare provider,” and 1 in 4 between the ages of 45 and 64 “did not have a routine check-up in the past year.” When you make your website more accessible, you multiply your opportunities to attract new patients and give them an enjoyable user experience. 

How can I make my website accessible?

There are some ways to make your website more accessible on your own, but in order to ensure they work appropriately across your website and across all devices, you will need to consult with an experienced web developer. Web developers can make sure that any adaptations are installed correctly, run smoothly, and are updated regularly. There are also widely accepted parameters for assessing accessibility created by the WAI. They are called the  Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Need help getting started?

If you have never considered accessibility on your website or are concerned you are missing something, then reach out to BoxCrush. We have a team of experienced web developers and designers who can seamlessly integrate accessibility tools into your website and create the user experience you’re looking for. 

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