Regulation of Medicine

Article

Ensuring Your Website is ADA Compliant

April 17, 2020

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities and applies to all employers with fifteen (15) or more employees. This often includes medical practices, hospitals, and surgery centers, which means that your organization’s products and services must be equally accessible to persons with disabilities. While you may be familiar with ADA accommodations like providing wheelchair ramps or allowing service animals into your office, you may not realize that the ADA applies to your organization’s website too. Noncompliance with the ADA website requirements can result in fines of up to $75,000 per incident.

It is important to evaluate whether your website is sufficiently ADA-compliant. ADA website compliance means that you may need to provide alternative functions and content on your website to accommodate those with visual, auditory, physical, or other impairments.

In general, the Department of Justice, which enforces ADA website compliance, finds that the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) published by the World Wide Web Consortium serve as a valuable resource for confirming that your website is sufficiently ADA-accessible.[1] The following are examples of common adjustments to consider to ensure ADA compliance:

  • Providing closed captioning or transcripts for every audio or video file featured on the website to assist those with auditory disabilities;
  • Using easily resizable text with a high color contrast to assist those with visual disabilities;
  • Including text descriptions under every photo, video, and PDF file to ensure that a blind user’s screen reader can identify the image;
  • Ensuring documents (such as patient intake forms) can be downloaded in forms other than just PDFs for screen-reader recognition; and
  • Limiting the use of flashing web content for those with sensory impairments.

The best way to ensure that your website is ADA-compliant is to ask your organization’s website designer or information technology director to confirm in writing that your website complies with the WCAG guidelines. You should maintain this documentation in case you receive an ADA website complaint from a patient or government investigator.

Additional Resources:

  • WCAG guidelines are available here.
  • For more information on the ADA, see the “Introduction to the ADA” available here.

 

[1]           W3C, “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1,” available at https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/.

Disclaimer

The information provided in this resource does not constitute legal, medical or any other professional advice, nor does it establish a standard of care. This resource has been created as an aid to you in your practice. The ultimate decision on how to use the information provided rests solely with you, the PolicyOwner.