If you’re a business owner, then you’re probably very familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As a federal law passed in 1990, the ADA put requirements in place to prohibit all operating businesses from discriminating against individuals with disabilities, from consumers to workers, and mandate them to provide accommodations for all those with a disability. This includes automatic doors, braille signage, disabled parking spots, and wheelchair accessibility ramps to name a few. However, in January 2018, the federal government updated ADA regulations to also include web accessibility. It is important, now more than ever, to incorporate these regulations into your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy by utilizing assistive technologies to make sure your website is ADA compliant, otherwise your plastic surgery practice could potentially be faced with multiple lawsuits.
Truth be told, there are no set guidelines for plastic surgeons who want to make their website ADA compliant. That being said, it is still up to you to make sure every user that visits your practice’s website has full access to everything it has to offer.
Depending on where your business falls under the ADA will determine which ADA regulations you must follow. As a plastic surgeon, your private practice will fall under both Tier I and Tier III of the ADA, which means that you will need to make the necessary accommodations for people with disabilities based on the law. The best way to create an ADA compliant website is to adopt the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2), which verifies that the content for your plastic surgery practice’s website is accessible to everyone.
Despite the fact there aren’t any definitive guidelines offered by the ADA for website compliance, there are still some precautions you can take in order to follow their regulations and protect yourself from lawsuits. The WCAG 2 outlines singular standards for developing an inclusive website for all online users and organizes them into four main principles (perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust), which can ultimately help increase online traffic to your website. Listed below are four simple and easy methods you can follow to make your practice’s website more ADA compliant through the use of assistive technologies and practical means:
The fastest way to make your website ADA compliant and accessible to everyone is to apply HTML alt tags and text transcripts to all audio and visual content. An alt tag provides a description for any images and videos located on your website, allowing people with disabilities to perceive the same information as those without. Similarly, text transcripts are a text log of what is said in videos, assisting those specifically with a hearing-impairment to understand your content that would have otherwise been cut off to them. This allows search engines like Google to “crawl” through your practice’s website to find any relevant keywords in these alt tags or transcripts related to an organic search result. However, it is also important to remember to use a readable font, design a clear and consistent layout, create content users can slow or pause, and make sure that your website can be navigated by using a keyboard or screen reader, as not every user can access the internet with a mouse or touchscreen. These methods are critical if you want to improve your rank on Google and ensure all users with a disability feel welcome when they visit your website.
If you want to find out if your website is functioning and operating properly, then consider conducting an SEO audit. The results from an audit will reveal any underlying problems that could be potentially preventing certain users from easily finding your content online. There are multiple types of audits you can conduct that check for different aspects of your website to make sure it is fully optimized, but not all SEO audits test for accessibility. Google’s WAVE tool can help you create an ADA compliant website and make it easier for people with disabilities to use, by evaluating it with a screen reader. This is one of the most effective strategies to expand your audience and improve your online presence.
Another way to make a website for your practice that is ADA compliant is to review previous cases brought to the federal court. Although, as a plastic surgeon with a tight schedule, you probably don’t have the time to do this yourself. Consider hiring a disability lawyer to help you design an ADA compliant website that suits your brand and content. Having your own personal lawyer on retainer, who specializes in disability law, will not only help you if your practice is ever presented with a lawsuit, but can also help you prevent a lawsuit from happening at all.
After you’ve produced your ADA compliant website, it might be tempting to leave it alone for a while, which often leads to business owners completely forgetting about the impact their website and content has on users. It is important to remember that while there are no set guidelines offered by the ADA, failing to comply with their regulations can land you into serious legal trouble. In addition, these regulations are forever adapting and changing to the needs of the disabled who rely on them. Therefore, it is encouraged for business owners to update their website at least once a year.
If you want to increase your online presence and traffic, while also preventing your private business from being sued, then consider making your plastic surgery practice’s website ADA compliant. This will make sure no user is excluded from accessing your content.
Don’t know where to begin? Reach out to electiv today to schedule a consultation. Our SEO experts will guarantee that your website is accessible to everyone, most especially individuals with disabilities.