Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, better known as ADA, requires businesses to maintain an accessible website. For websites, there are no clear guidelines but this doesn’t mean that businesses are off the hooks. The business website should be accessible to users living with disabilities.
There are a few actions you can take to set you on the right path toward website ADA compliance, or at least help you demonstrate that your business has made a good-faith effort toward accommodation, should you ever wind up in court.
Accessibility of a website means ensuring that individuals who are blind, deaf or who must navigate by voice are still able to meaningfully engage with the content on your website. This can be done in many ways, including some that are not immediately obvious. Making your website ADA compliant may come at a cost but it beats the alternative of being slapped with a lawsuit.
ADA compliance is important for any healthcare business because:
- You Get to Avoid Lawsuits
Thinking that ADA accessibility regulations do not apply to your website it is time to rethink that. This is most especially important for healthcare businesses as this is where most Americans with a disability come to seek medical attention.
ADA non-compliance can land you in hot soup, including having to pay steep fines of up to $150,000. The number of ADA lawsuits has continued to rise sharply in the past two years in the first half of 2018 the number of lawsuits rose to about 33% from a similar time in 2017.
Some companies that have faced legal action due to ADA non-compliance include:
WellPoint, Inc. was smacked with an ADA lawsuit by two visually impaired individuals residing in the state of California, namely Sam Chen and Steven Mendelsohn. The two were members of Anthem Blue Cross which is an affiliate company of WellPoint Health Networks Inc. The two informed WellPoint back in 2011 about their difficulties accessing their main website. The good thing is that the insurer acted promptly and entered into discussions with them.
HCA Holdings, Inc.
The plaintiff, through her disability lawyers, claimed that websites of some of the HCA-owned hospitals were riddled with accessibility issues such as lack of alt text for images and failing to support keyboard navigation.
Tenet Healthcare was named in a class action lawsuit alongside Hahnemann University Hospital, Hialeah Hospital, and Coral Gables Hospital. The class action was filed on behalf of all Americans with visual impairment. The complaint argues that the healthcare company’s websites weren’t accessible through screen-readers, and therefore violate the Rehabilitation Act Section 504 and Title III of the ADA.
There are countless other reasons to ensure that your website is ADA compliant:
- If you aren’t compliant, you risk losing contracts, funding, and assistance from municipal, local and federal government agencies.
- It’s good for your reputation and credibility as a healthcare facility. Needless to say, scrambling to fix your noncompliance when discovered can have an adverse effect on how patients and the general public perceive your business.
- You’ll lose customers with a disability, numbering more than 25 million in the US alone.
- Staying one step ahead of compliance regulations will help you keep costly ADA lawsuits and possible decisions against your firm at bay.
These are just but a few examples of the risk of not making your healthcare website ADA compliant. Executives should not take this lightly and should ensure that they meet all the requirements to avoid losing both business and money. Healthcare companies should carry out thorough, site-wide inspections employing a combination of automated and manual testing.