Is Your Healthcare Website ADA Compliant?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. This includes the digital world, meaning websites and other online platforms must be accessible to people with disabilities. 

Previously, it has been unclear what exactly makes a website “accessible” vs. “inaccessible,” so the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is working to change that. On August 4, 2023, the DOJ published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to the Federal Register that defines specific requirements and technical standards for accessible websites. They accepted comments on the proposal until October 3, 2023.

To help you better understand what is going on, we’ve answered the top 5 questions about ADA compliant websites and their importance in the healthcare industry.

1. What is ADA website compliance?

For a website to be considered ADA compliant, it needs to be accessible to people with disabilities. This means that the website is equipped with the functionality and design choices that make it easy for people with visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive disabilities to use. 

The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division shared guidance about web accessibility in March of 2022 and explained that currently, “Businesses and state and local governments have flexibility in how they comply with the ADA’s general requirements of nondiscrimination and effective communication. But they must comply with the ADA’s requirements.” 

While this lack of clarity has made it easier for companies with inaccessible websites to avoid lawsuits in the past, the DOJ is actively working to change that. In August of 2023, the Department proposed “technical requirements to provide concrete standards to public entities on how to fulfill their obligations under title II to provide equal access to all of their services, programs, and activities that are provided via the web and mobile apps.”

Now that the comment period is complete, the DOJ will soon issue a final rule on ADA website compliance, and businesses will need to comply with the new legal standards.

2. Why is it important to have ADA website compliance?

Having an ADA compliant website ensures that people with disabilities have equal access to information and services provided online. The purpose of the ADA is to remove barriers that people with disabilities may face, including anything that would prevent them from accessing important information online or completing necessary tasks. 

Why do I need ADA website compliance in 2023?

It is particularly important to have ADA website compliance in 2023 due to the DOJ’s NPRM on website accessibility. It clarifies what exactly your website needs to have in order to be considered accessible to people with disabilities, specifically “individuals with vision, hearing, cognitive, and manual dexterity disabilities.”

Some main takeaways from the proposed rule include:

  • The DOJ adopts the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1  as the technical standard for web content and mobile app accessibility under title II of the ADA.
  • Businesses with fewer than 50,000 persons/special district governments would need to comply within three years after publication of the final rule.
  • Businesses with more that 50,000 persons would need to comply within two years after publication of the final rule.

Today, businesses can still face hefty fines and lawsuits for having an inaccessible website. There were 3,250 lawsuits filed in 2022, and the average fine for non-compliance is between $20,000 – $50,000. These numbers will simply continue to increase once the final DOJ rule is out, as there will be specific technical standards to prove when websites are inaccessible.

Outside of mitigating legal risk, having an ADA compliant website has many other benefits, including:

  • Optimizing your website’s reach
  • Improving your diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts
  • Attracting new potential customers with disabilities

By making your website accessible, you can also receive up to $5,000 from the Disabled Access Credit. This helps cover expenses for adhering with ADA regulations.

Want to ensure that your website is ADA compliant? Claim your free audit today!

3. Whose websites need to be ADA compliant?

The ADA requires that state and local governments and businesses open to the public have ADA website compliance. The DOJ’s proposal provides concrete accessibility standards for the websites of entities that Title II of ADA applies to, including:

  • Schools
  • Social services
  • Emergency services
  • Public transportation
  • Health care

At Baker Marketing Laboratory, we specialize in designing and developing websites for the healthcare industry, so ADA compliance is critical. Our team is well-versed in the latest accessibility guidelines and technologies, and we are committed to ensuring that your healthcare website is user-friendly and visually appealing for all visitors.

However, even if your business does not fall under the above categories, having an accessible website is a great way to showcase that you prioritize accessibility and stay ahead of future legal risk. 

4. What are some common accessibility features of an ADA compliant website?

There are various common features that can help achieve ADA website compliance, including:

  • Alt text for images, which provides a description of the image for people who are visually impaired
  • Captions for audio and video, which makes the content accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • Keyboard navigation, which allows people with motor disabilities to navigate the website using the keyboard instead of a mouse or touchpad
  • Consistent navigation and labeling, which helps people with cognitive disabilities understand the website’s structure and content
  • Color contrast, which ensures text is clearly legible for people with visual impairments

5. How do you make a website ADA compliant?

The first step to achieving ADA website compliance is to conduct an accessibility audit. This involves taking an in-depth look at your current site and identifying areas that need improvement.

Sound like something you don’t have the time or energy for? You’re in luck! Our team of experts at Baker Marketing Laboratory is offering a free ADA compliance audit for your healthcare website. Get your free accessibility audit today for the solution to meeting accessibility standards.

Website Accessibility Resources:

Editor’s note: This blog post has been updated since its original publication in May 2023 for comprehensiveness.

Get a Free ADA Compliance Audit

Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and does not serve as legal advice. You should not act on the basis of any content included in this blog post without seeking legal or other professional advice.