Website accessibility is the practice of enabling people with disabilities to use a website, meaning that they can navigate, understand and interact with its content. Most web-prohibiting disabilities fall under one of these four categories:
- Visual (i.e. blindness, color-blindness, farsightedness)
- Auditory (i.e partial hearing loss or deafness)
- Cognitive (i.e. memory loss, ADD, dyslexia)
- Physical (i.e. pain caused by movement, temporary lack of mobility, paralysis)
In a report published by the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every five adults in the U.S. has a disability, meaning that sites not adhering to even the simplest of accessibility practices are potentially blocking their content from an audience of around 53 million people.
Putting Website Accessibility Into Practice
The practice of website accessibility is especially important for health systems, as barriers to a hospital’s content may prevent individuals from finding the care they need to diagnose, manage or treat their disabilities. For example, a person interested in watching an ENT doctor on video may bounce if captions for the hearing impaired are not provided, while someone searching for an ophthalmologist may choose to exit a site if its standard text size is too small to read.
To begin breaking down these and other barriers to your healthcare content, here are ten ways to make your hospital’s website more accessible:
- Write content using language that is simple, clear and concise. For example, say “blood clot” instead of “thrombosis.”
- Offer content in more than one form (i.e. text, videos, images, podcasts, etc.).
- Add clear headers to your pages so that users can easily scan and navigate them to find what they need.
- Offer adjustable text size for visually impaired users who may be unable to read your standard-size text.
- Provide a high contrast between text and its background color to improve readability across your site.
- Do not rely solely on colors to convey information; use text or an ALT tag to supplement any color-systems on your site in support of those who are color-blind.
- Include transcripts and/or captions along with your videos to accommodate users with hearing impairments.
- Add images that illustrate text-based content to help support users with reading disabilities.
- Provide breadcrumb navigation to help people keep track of your site’s hierarchy. This is especially helpful for individuals with a memory loss or attention deficit disorder.
- Offer forms with word predictability to limit the amount of typing for those with physical impairments.
While some items like updating headers and adding images are less involved than others like re-writing content and redoing your color schemes, they all play an equal role in reducing barriers to your site’s content. And in addition to supporting website accessibility, implementing the items above will support the SEO (search engine optimization) health of your hospital’s website as well as overall user experience.
Have you taken any other steps to make your hospital’s healthcare content accessible to people with disabilities? Share your methods in the comments below.