Is your practice website in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act site compliance regulations?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates by federal law that your website be compliant for use by the 20% of the population with disabilities. This includes giving vision-, hearing-, and physically- impaired individuals the ability to navigate and interact with your website.
More than one billion people live with disabilities, including 57 million in the United States (https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/miscellaneous/cb12-134.html). Many of them are unable to use computers, mobile phones, tablets, and similar technologies. Devices that should help to improve their quality of life instead become a source of frustration. By making your website ADA compliant, you will gain a new and loyal revenue source, and minimize the risk of legal action against your company.
How Do People with Disabilities Use Your Website?
For the hearing-impaired:
- All audio content, including video, must have a written description.
For the visually impaired:
- All visual content, including pictures and buttons, must be properly coded for use by screen-reader software.
For the physically impaired:
- All website navigation, including hundreds of keyboard shortcuts, must be properly coded for those who cannot use a mouse.
ADA Website Lawsuits
- ADA Title III lawsuits in Federal Court increased from 2,722 in 2013 to 7,663 in 2017 (Seyfarth Shaw LLP, 2018).
- Netflix was required to pay $800,000 in damages for noncompliance with the ADA (http://www.thinkwrap.com/blog/website-accessibility-protect-your-business-from-the-risk-of-lawsuit).
- Target paid $6 million to settle a class-action suit brought by the National Federation of the Blind, and nearly $4 million more to cover the plaintiffs’ attorney fees and other costs (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-pulliam-ada-websites-20170611-story.html).
- Other costs to companies include lost time, wasted human capital, business stress, and negative PR in traditional and on social media
Remediating Your Website
To ensure your website is ADA compliant and usable for all visitors, you need a qualified expert who specializes in auditing and remediating sites to meet version 2.1 of the web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG), the international standard set forth by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Web developers are not – and are not expected to be – experts in ADA compliance. And free online tools fail to spot, on average, 70-80% of the compliance failures that lead to lawsuits (estimate by ADA Site Compliance).
Only a dedicated website compliance expert that combines both sophisticated technological and human expert auditing can identify the entire set of known issues that cause ADA non-compliance. He or she should provide you with detailed line-by-line reporting on specific errors in your website’s code, along with screen shots of each case and suggested steps for remediation. Your auditor’s report should be clear and precise, giving those tasked with remediating your site a step-by-step blueprint to achieve compliance.
Web Site Manager and ADA Compliance
Thanks to our recent work with ADA Site Compliance, the templates in Dentrix Web Site Manager have been updated and are now ADA compliant. You will need to use one of the new templates in Web Site Manager to be compliant. Then, any edits you make to the template you select, such as color changes (for correct contrast), and images (with alt tags), should be tested for compliance.
Be aware that it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure that your website is in compliance with ADA regulations, even if you use our templates. However, being compliant does not have to be expensive, difficult or confusing. Legal and regulatory advisors like ADA Site Compliance can test your final website to ensure compliance.
For more information about ADA Site Compliance, visit www.adasitecompliance.com.
For more information about the Dentrix Web Site Manager, visit https://www.dentrix.com/products/eservices/dentrix-website.
By ADA Site Compliance and Bruce Herbert, eServices Product Marketing Manager
Originally published in the Dentrix eNewsletter, October 2016