Digital Accessibility: How to Achieve Compliance and Create a Better User Experience
// By Marlene Kurban //
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law 29 years ago, covers much more than ramps and rails. Today, accessibility includes the internet and the digital accommodations required for people with vision, hearing, speech, cognitive, or mobility impairments.
More than 56 million Americans live with a disability. Ensuring that your website is easily navigated and understood by people with a range of cognitive and physical limitations is not just an ethical business practice. It’s a legal requirement if your organization receives federal funding or assistance.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has long considered websites to be covered under the ADA. There is no specific legislation related to web accessibility, but Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd stated in a September 2018 letter to Congress that “the absence of a specific regulation does not serve as a basis for noncompliance with a statute’s requirements.”
WCAG, short for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, is a global standard that covers a wide range of recommendations for making website content more accessible. Compliance is voluntary, and Boyd’s letter notes that “noncompliance with a voluntary technical standard for website accessibility does not necessarily indicate noncompliance with the ADA.”
In the absence of regulatory standards, courts are setting precedent and often ruling in plaintiffs’ favor. ADA-related digital accessibility lawsuits are on the rise and have been recorded in every state, with the largest number of lawsuits filed in Florida and New York.
Given that digital technologies, content, and services are constantly evolving, how can healthcare organizations achieve compliance without costly, time-consuming redesigns? John Mulvey, founder of digital accessibility solution provider Digital Echo, weighed in during a recent Strategic Health Care Marketing webinar, “Digital Accessibility: How to Achieve Compliance and Create a Better User Experience,” with co-presenter April Morgan, accessibility training manager at AudioEye.
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