As the world becomes more digitized, businesses need to have a strong online presence to succeed. For dentists, this means having a website that provides patients with all the necessary information about their practice, services, and contact details. However, it's not enough for the website to be aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate - it also needs to be ADA-compliant.
In this blog post, we will discuss what the ADA is, how this impact dental practices, and how dentists can protect themselves against costly lawsuits.
What is the ADA?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. This includes ensuring equal access to public places like restaurants, stores, and healthcare facilities. In recent years, the ADA has been extended to websites and digital content, making it mandatory for businesses to make their online presence accessible to people with disabilities.
The ADA was signed into law in 1990 to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities. The law requires public places to be accessible to people with disabilities, including physical spaces like buildings and digital spaces like websites. In 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) published the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which outlines the specific requirements for website accessibility.
How Does the ADA Relate to Dental Website Design?
According to the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, websites must be designed to be compatible with assistive technologies, such as screen readers, which are used by people with visual impairments. These guidelines include:
- Use alt text for images: Alt text is a brief description of an image that appears when a user hovers over it. This is important for users with visual impairments who may use screen readers to navigate the web.
- Provide text transcripts for videos and audio files: Users with hearing impairments may not be able to hear the audio content on your website. Providing text transcripts ensures that they can access the information.
- Use clear and easy-to-read fonts: Choose fonts that are easy to read and are at least 12-point size. This is particularly important for users with visual impairments.
- Ensure that your website is keyboard accessible: Users with mobility impairments may not be able to use a mouse. Ensure that your website can be navigated using a keyboard alone.
- Provide captions for all videos: Captions are important for users who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Ensure that all forms are accessible: Ensure that all form fields are labeled and that users can navigate through the form using a keyboard.
- Avoid using colors alone to convey information: Users with color blindness may not be able to distinguish between certain colors. Ensure that color is not the only way you convey information on your website.
- Provide descriptive link text: Ensure that the link text is descriptive and provides information about the content of the link.
By implementing these guidelines, you can help make your dental website compliant with the ADA and ensure that all users can access your content.
Dentists Put Themselves at Risk by Ignoring ADA Website Guidelines
In recent years, there has been a surge in lawsuits filed against businesses for website accessibility issues. A study conducted by UsableNet found that the number of website accessibility lawsuits filed in federal court increased by 177% from 2017 to 2018. This trend continued in the following years, with 2,523 website accessibility lawsuits filed in federal court in 2020.
Dental practices are not exempt from these lawsuits, as many have already been targeted for non-compliance with ADA guidelines. In 2020, a dental practice in New York was sued for having a website that was inaccessible to people with visual impairments. The lawsuit claimed that the website was incompatible with screen readers, making it difficult for visually impaired patients to access information about the practice's services and facilities. The dental practice settled the lawsuit by agreeing to make its website ADA-compliant and paying $5,000 in damages.
The Importance of Having an ADA-compliant
Having an ADA-compliant website is not only a legal requirement, but it's also an ethical obligation. By ensuring that their website is accessible to all patients, including those with disabilities, dentists can provide better patient care and improve their reputation. Here are some benefits of having an ADA-compliant website:
- Better Patient Care: An ADA-compliant website ensures that all patients, regardless of their disabilities, can access important information about the dental practice, such as its services, location, and contact details. This improves the patient experience and helps build trust with patients.
- Compliance with Federal Regulations: As mentioned earlier, the DOJ has indicated that the ADA applies to all websites, including private businesses, such as dental practices. By having an ADA-compliant website, dentists can avoid potential lawsuits and ensure compliance with federal regulations.
- Ethical Responsibility: Dentists need to ensure that their practice is accessible to all patients, regardless of their disabilities. By having an ADA-compliant website, dentists can fulfill their ethical obligation to provide equal access to healthcare services.
Maximize Your Dental Marketing with an ADA-compliant Site
Now that we’ve established the legal reasons for having an ADA-compliant site, it’s time to discuss marketing. Dentists should also understand that this has a positive impact on their dental marketing efforts. Here’s how:
- Improved SEO: Having an ADA-compliant website can also improve search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines, such as Google, prioritize websites that are accessible and user-friendly, which can lead to higher rankings and more website traffic.
- Reputation Building: An ADA-compliant website shows that a dentist is committed to providing the best patient care possible, including to those with disabilities. This can improve the dentist's reputation and attract new patients seeking an inclusive and welcoming practice.
Don’t jeopardize your search ranking or reputation. Take the time to invest in an ADA-compliant practice site to avoid costly lawsuits and support your digital marketing efforts.
Protect Your Practice with an ADA-compliant Website
In conclusion, having an ADA-compliant website is essential for dentists who want to provide the best patient care possible, comply with federal regulations, and build a positive reputation. By ignoring ADA website guidelines, dentists risk potential lawsuits and may exclude patients with disabilities from accessing important information about their practice. To avoid these risks and ensure that their website is accessible to all patients, dentists should prioritize ADA compliance in their website design.
In addition to correctly coding website elements, dentists can include alternative text for non-text content, ensure that their website structure is clear and easy to navigate, and provide text transcripts for audio and video content. By taking these steps, dentists can improve their website's accessibility and provide better patient care for all.
Trust the Dental Marketing Experts for Your Web Design Needs
Are you looking for a dental marketing agency that can help you create an ADA-compliant website that is fast, secure, and optimized for conversions? Call DentalMarketing.com today. Our team of web design experts specializes in creating high-quality websites that are specifically tailored to the unique needs of dental practices.
At DentalMarketing.com, we stay on the leading edge of the dental industry by closely following trends and innovations. We understand that the dental industry is constantly evolving, and we work hard to stay ahead of the curve and deliver cutting-edge website design solutions to our clients.