It was just over a year ago that the entire country shut down due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Elective surgeries and all non-essential doctor visits were postponed. As this occurred, private practices across the United States were forced to transition into a virtual setting to survive. This last year has been tough financially on many of these private practices, especially since financial aid wasn’t as readily available to small businesses as it should have been.
As medical professionals navigated into a more virtual world of business, so too did their patients; many of whom never did much more than email or Google something here and there prior to 2020.
As the United States is experiencing a Virtual Revolution, virtual communication has become more important than ever before, and accessibility to communication needs to be equal. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits any type of discrimination of disabled individuals and requires equal opportunity for the disabled in any setting.
So, Does Your Website Need to Be ADA Compliant?
While there is no law currently dictating that websites or apps need to be compliant to people with disabilities, imagine how frustrating and isolating it must be for them when attempting to navigate in this virtual world. Also, the legal system has been setting best practice standards which should be abided by to avoid a lawsuit. Even though there is no law dictating that websites need to be ADA-Compliant, if you aren’t there is a good chance you will lose when you are sued due to the outcome of previous court rulings, lawsuits, etc.
Within the last few months, more and more medical professionals with private practices have been targeted by individuals seeking damages due to their practice websites not being ADA-compliant. Lawyers across the country are advising medical professionals to settle these lawsuits. So, not only are the doctors, dermatologists, med spas, etc. being forced to hire an attorney, but they are also having to pay expensive settlements and pay to fix their websites.
How Can You Avoid Being Sued For ADA Violations?
Audit your website and make it compliant as soon as possible. You can contact your website developer to see if they offer this service. If not, here is a checklist for you:
- ✓ Hire a professional to scan and audit your website for ADA violations
- ✓ Determine what needs to be fixed to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA or 2.1 AA requirements
- ✓ Fix all known issues
- ✓ Have your website evaluated by an ADA law professional to determine if all criteria were met
- ✓ Add a Public Accessibility Policy to state your commitment to accessibility
- ✓ Stay apprised of any changes to the requirement criteria and re-scan
There’s no going back. The Virtual Revolution is here and it’s not going anywhere. The focus will be to make content accessible for everyone who is utilizing your virtual platforms. In summer 2021, WCAG 2.2 may go into effect. This update focuses on making virtual content accessible to a wider range of disabilities, and will include:
- Blind / Low Vision Individuals
- Deaf / Individuals with Hearing Loss
- Individuals with Limited Movement
- Individuals with Speech Disabilities
- Individuals with Photosensitivity
- Individuals with Learning Disabilities
- Individuals with Cognitive Limitations
What does this mean for you?
The current best practice standard for the average American website is WCAG 2.0 AA or WCAG 2.1 AA. If you are not meeting the success criteria set by these guidelines, then you are at risk for a lawsuit.
If your website caters to the elderly or people with disabilities, then you will need to include more accessible content options and should be working to become WCAG 2.2 compliant now.
Simply correcting your accessibility problems will improve your online presence and may prevent expensive lawsuits. Don’t wait for the lawsuit to hit your inbox. Act now.
Need help? Click to contact PUMC to see if you qualify.