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Legal Battles Ensue Between Health Institutions And People With Disabilities

Because some healthcare institutions have not complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act (or ADA) — they are getting slapped with lawsuits left and right.

From a 30,000 ft. perspective, the regulation aims to ensure that people with disabilities have the same opportunities and rights as everyone else.

That means if fully-abled people can browse a website with ease, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) should also be able to do the same.

It’s ironic when you think about it. That healthcare companies, the very institutions that are meant to help people with disabilities or those who are sick, are the very ones getting slapped with ADA-related lawsuits.

What’s even more ironic is the fact that large and well-established healthcare companies, despite having millions of dollars, were still caught with their pants down.

Some Healthcare Companies That Have Been Sued

At the root of accessibility-related lawsuits against health institutions are the lack of web accessibility features and functionalities for different disabilities.

If your website doesn’t have features like keyboard navigation and a PWD user-friendly interface, you could be sued for violating the ADA.

Several health establishments have already found themselves facing legal cases due to non-compliance with the ADA and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

To give you insights on web accessibility-related lawsuits against health institutions, here are some real cases you can learn from.

  • Frazier versus HCA Holdings, Inc. Frazier, who is legally blind, filed a lawsuit against HCA Holdings claiming that some HCA-owned hospital websites had accessibility issues.The issues included the lack of Alt Text for web images and no support for keyboard navigation.
  • The American Blind Community versus Tenet Healthcare. The institution was named in a lawsuit that was filed on behalf of all Americans who have visual impairment due to the inaccessibility of the company’s website via screen readers.

This violates the Rehabilitation Act Section 504 and Title III found in the ADA.

  • Steven Mendelsohn and Sam Chen versus Wellpoint Inc. Wellpoint, now called Anthem, was sued by two visually-impaired individuals over difficulties in accessing the company’s website.

However, the plaintiff and defendant came to an agreement, and Wellpoint signed an agreement to comply with WCAG 2.0.

Based on these real-life cases, the risks of your website failing to comply with web accessibility regulations are not worth it – which should make compliance your only choice.

ADA-Compliance Myth

With how massive some healthcare websites are, some people think that complying with the ADA standards is going to cost them thousands of dollars — primarily due to the changes that need to be implemented on the website.

This is a myth that a lot of website owners are falling for.

The solution is to work with web accessibility solutions that won’t put a hole in your pockets.

Here’s how amymyersmd.com made its website accessible and ADA-compliant using a web accessibility platform called accessiBe.

accessiBe allows your visitors with disability to adjust your site’s content, design, and other elements according to their disability or need through an accessible user interface.

This allows your disabled users to make the necessary adjustments to your healthcare website without you having to come in and manually make the adjustments.

Thanks to Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and IRIS technology, it can provide the screen readers that your visitors use with accurate Alt Text descriptions for your images.

You might be interested in: Raising Awareness – What Companies Need To Know About Disability

What Healthcare Companies SHOULDN’T Do

It’s not enough that you understand what you should do for your website to be ADA compliant, but you also need to know what you shouldn’t do to avoid web accessibility-related lawsuits.

Remember that the consequences of non-compliance are expensive and potentially damaging to your health institution’s operations and reputation, so your website must remain compliant 24/7.

For instance, manual web accessibility solutions will take a lot of time and effort to set up before they can start running and make your website accessible and ADA compliant. Plus, they are far more expensive compared to using automated web accessibility platforms.

Your website might also encounter compliance gaps during updates or when you add new content, change the design, and modify your other site elements.

You will also need to consider that compliance regulations can change at any time, and when you use manual accessibility solutions, you’ll need to run full updates on all your content and web pages to ensure that your site is keeping to the new standards.

This will be a time-consuming, labor-intensive, and resource-draining task.

The key is to work with automated solutions that allow you to set them up and forget about them (to an extent).

With AI-based and automated accessibility features, you won’t need to manually code everything every time your website goes through updates or when you modify your site elements.

Automated solutions can also adjust your web content automatically – including your forms, dropdown menus, and more – to adapt them for web accessibility.

This way, your website maintains ADA compliance, improves the user experience of your PWD visitors, and helps keep your health institution from accessibility-related legal cases.

Last Word

As a health institution, you should know that complying with ADA is dead easy. Website accessibility can easily join the list of technologies that are shaping the future of healthcare.

If you follow the steps of some healthcare providers like the ones mentioned above, you can comply in as quick as 48 hours while not having to spend monstrous amounts of money to make your website ADA compliant AND accessible.

Plus, having a compliant and accessible website means you won’t be getting sued for accessibility-related complaints any time soon.

Is the website for your healthcare company compliant with ADA standards? What are some of the issues you’re facing and what are your thoughts about ADA? Please share your comments below.

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