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The American Dental Association has recently released a paper to members about the important issue of web accessibility because several dentists in Texas had received letters from attorneys alleging their websites violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (AwDA).
These company websites allegedly were not accessible to individuals with disabilities such as blindness or hearing impairment. Such letters typically request the payment of some amount of money in order to avoid a lawsuit, and may also insist on prompt compliance with the law.
This kind of litigation is expensive to fight and an unnecessary cost for any local business. Also, just because you may be ‘hit; once, doesn’t stop you from being ‘hit’ again unless you take some immediate action and make your website inclusive for all.
Dental websites seem to be a target of late, but the same ‘drive-by’ litigation tactics could be experienced by any small business with a web presence.
Making Your Website Accessible to All
In order to avoid costly, stressful litigation it would be prudent to ensure your website first removes barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to it by people with disabilities. When websites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all visitors have equal access to information and functionality.
You can find out more about web accessibility here.
In some cases, for old websites or if your web designer has disappeared it maybe a case of having a new website developed to the current standards with inclusive accessibility.
In less dramatic scenarios you can make an ‘Accessibility‘ link in the footer of your website that directs to a web page called “Accessibility.” This new page would typically be located below the Contact Us tab on the main menu.
On the Contact Us page, add the additional text below or something similar depending on your business or industry:
We are committed to continuously improving access to our goods and services by individuals with disabilities. If you are unable to use any aspect of this website because of a disability, please call [insert your company phone number] and we will provide you with prompt personalized assistance.
Web Accessibility Page Example
[Insert your company name] are continuously working to improve the accessibility of content on our website. Below, you’ll find a few recommendations to help make your browsing experience more accessible:
If you have trouble seeing web pages, the US Social Security Administration offers these tips for optimizing your computer and browser to improve your online experience.
- Use your computer to read web pages out loud
- Use the keyboard to navigate screens
- Increase text size
- Magnify your screen
- Change background and text colors
- Make your mouse pointer more visible (Windows only)
If you are looking for mouse and keyboard alternatives, speech recognition software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking may help you navigate web pages and online services. This software allows the user to move focus around a web page or application screen through voice controls.
If you are deaf or hard of hearing, there are several accessibility features available to you.
Closed captioning provides a transcript for the audio track of a video presentation that is synchronized with the video and audio tracks. Captions are generally visually displayed over the video, which benefits people who are deaf and hard of hearing, and anyone who cannot hear the audio due to noisy environments. Most of our video content includes captions. Learn how to turn captioning on and off in YouTube.
Your computer, tablet, or mobile device has volume control features. Each video and audio service has its own additional volume controls. Try adjusting both your device’s volume controls and your media players’ volume controls to optimize your listening experience.
If the recommendations above do not meet your needs, we invite you to contact us at [insert your company phone number] for assistance.
The American Dental Association’s ‘Accessibility‘ web page can be referenced here.
It is also important that you have some versed in helping people with disabilities in your place of work and on the phone. Filling in forms and providing further information makes for an all inclusive service.