News from NW ADA Center – Idaho
Web Accessibility in Health Care
As the ADA celebrates its 28th anniversary this year, it has become a given that physical locations should be accessible to all people, especially those with disabilities. The digital world should be no different but unfortunately, an alarming number of websites have proven to be vastly inaccessible. Digital accessibility means giving every person access to the information on the internet. There is significant structure behind the 2-dimensional screen, and you simply cannot just “see” if a website is accessible by looking at the screen.
Many people with disabilities use tools and technology, such as screen readers, magnifying software, to access and read information online. If the code behind the website isn’t compatible with the assistive technology (AT) or worse, if the code isn’t even there, navigating a website becomes nearly impossible.
Since the nature of health care is to help those affected by disease, disabilities and impairments, these organizations should be assessing their digital properties from the perspective of their consumers with disabilities and impairments, and apply that knowledge to their online information.
285 million people have vision impairments, and this number will continue to grow as the population ages.37.5 million adults report some level of hearing loss, from temporary to permanent – this also impacts the online experience. Imagine the frustration of being unable to order a prescription online because the form entry fields are too small, or to be able to understand a video about post-op instructions because it lacks closed-captioning.
Simply put, as we become a more tech-savvy world, barriers also increase. In the last 10 years, many health care organizations have switched to digital health records. Agencies must ensure that all published electronic information is compatible with AT devices commonly used by people with disabilities.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act has now aligned with the worldwide Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). These guidelines, already recognized in most developed countries, address accessibility for vision and hearing impaired, color perception, cognition, manual dexterity, and more, and requires websites to be accessible starting January 2018. Online website content must incorporate header tags, alt attributes and other elements for text, images, video, forms, animations and more. There is not always a one-size-fits-all solution, but businesses today need to make sure they are doing all they can.
For more information contact Laine Amoureux of Amoureux AT Consulting in Boise. She specializes in accommodation for access to digital information such as websites or computer programs and can help a business identify and learn to use the tools the architect of the digital space may need. You can learn more at axesskeysconsulting.com or call 208-297-3341.
Dana Gover, MPA, and ACTCP Certification, ADA Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator
For more information about ADA Technical Assistance visit the NW ADA Center Idaho website: nwadacenter.org/idaho
Phone: Voice and Text 208-841-9422
Idaho Relay Service: 711