Let’s talk about the Federal Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA became law in 1990. It’s a civil rights law aimed at stopping discrimination of those with disabilities in all areas of their public life. The law requires some businesses to make certain accommodations. Yes, this includes accessibility at a physical location for service animals, wheelchairs, and the use of braille. This compliance also reaches into the digital world. ADA compliance is necessary for your dental practice website.
A Real Issue for Dentists
You may have heard about several dentists near Austin, Texas, who received official letters because their websites were not compliant. Yes, it does happen. Your dental practice is vulnerable to legal action if your website does not comply with the ADA. Talk about a stressful situation that could cost thousands and thousands of dollars!
This is a serious and dangerous situation for you as a business owner. It’s important to remember that the 50 million or so Americans who live with disabilities, including our great veterans, still have teeth and require (and deserve) an incredible patient experience. An accessible website ensures anyone who is deaf, blind, or suffering from other physical impairment can still engage your website in a meaningful way.
This blog will provide some guidelines for your practice so you can be more inclusive and show that you’ve made a good faith effort to comply.
*I would encourage you to speak with a disability lawyer if you have any specific legal concerns. This post is not legally binding, nor is it legal advice. Per J. Craig Busey, ADA general counsel, it is advised that dentists check with their respective state dental society for a white paper about the issue of ADA compliance.*
How to Get Started
Here is some ugly truth… Just because you hired a web designer or marketing company to create your website does not mean it is ADA compliant. Dental practices can be susceptible to lawsuits. Your practice is, unfortunately, a prime target as you typically have high collections but not the deep corporate pockets to fight your case over the long haul.
While the guidelines of ADA compliance aren’t fully set in stone, under Title III of the ADA, healthcare professionals and businesses that provide a “place of public accommodation”, need to be ADA compliant. A dental practice will, most likely, fall into these categories.
Listed below are some steps you can take toward ADA compliance for your dental website:
- Text: Text must be changeable with regard to size and contrast mode. Contrast adjustment makes it easier for those with visual impairment to see and read the content.
- Audio, Images & Videos: Add Alt tags which allow a user to hear alternative descriptors of content they may not be able to view. Include text transcripts and subtitles for video content as well.
- Text Only Version: Some users will only be able to navigate your site with a keyboard interface. Technology like screen readers needs to be able to navigate your website. Alexa and Siri, too!
- Forms: Any forms that are downloadable from your site need to meet ADA standards. They must be accessible to everyone.
- Layout: Links, Menus, and buttons should be designed so they are clearly separate from one another and easily recognizable on your site.
ADA compliance is great for SEO as well. The added steps and additional descriptors on various pieces of content make it easier for search engines to crawl, index and understand your website, pushing it up the organic search results and getting your site in front of more users.
There are many downsides to non-compliance. Aside from the risk of legal action, you are missing out on revenue. Those disabled in your community still have teeth and still deserve to be cared for. Your competitors are probably not focused on ADA compliance. That means those disabled patients nearby can’t use their website. Give those patients the opportunity to use yours.
We talk a lot about branding and building relationships at GPG. This is a fantastic way to do that while also protecting your practice from real risk. Give ALL patients the opportunity to engage and become loyal brand advocates who will refer and promote your practice. Everyone deserves an amazing patient experience.
We believe your website is more than just a static digital placeholder. Every website we create at Grow Practice Grow is ADA compliant and responsive. Nothing is canned or template. Nothing is stock.
The best way to ensure your practice is safe is to speak to our team of Dental Marketing Experts. Right now you can get a free, no-obligation digital marketing audit. This free audit is an in-depth reporting of your current Website and SEO presence, presented in an easy to read A-F scaled breakdown.
You want a beautiful, custom website that everyone can access. You want to serve all members of your community. You want to protect your business from unnecessary legal risk. Let us help you!
Consult a disability lawyer with specific questions regarding the law. Our marketing firm does not provide legal advice nor does this blog constitute as legal advice.