When you’re sharing information about your practice online, it’s vital to keep every potential patient’s experience in mind — including those with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 was enacted to remove barriers that would prevent everyone from accessing or enjoying facilities, services, and benefits to the same degree. In 2010, an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking added websites to the list of “barriers” that service providers must actively work to eliminate.
Some lawyers have even targeted providers with non-conforming websites, threatening legal action in hopes of reaching settlements. However, developing a website compliant with ADA expectations is not just a good way for businesses to avoid lawsuits or fulfill legal obligations. As a medical provider, giving all consumers equal access to the information on your website ensures that you are in a position to connect with as many new patients as possible.
There are four major categories to keep in mind when building a website that meets Web Content Accessibility Guidelines:
A perceivable website ensures content is easily recognizable, visible and understandable for all users. A key to a perceivable website for visually impaired individuals is a text alternative for all non-text content.
An operable website is keyboard accessible, and allows the user enough time to read the content and limits the number of links per page. These features are not only helpful for users with disabilities, but also are fundamental principles of good web design.
Understandable websites present information in a way that is easy to navigate and comprehend.
Your website structure must be robust and compatible with current and future assistive technologies. Your website's code should not contain duplicate attributes and should be as clean as possible with respect to the way they are coded and architected.
Here are a few ideas for putting these ideals into action:
- A clear layout and easily navigable design eliminates difficulties for many users, including those who aren’t as experienced with computers
- Add a closed captioning to any videos on your website
- Design your website with high-contrast colors
- Enable text-to-speech and/or voice recognition
- Ensure content is written in a way that’s easily understood by users of all reading levels
- Allow users to navigate your site with a keyboard
There are business benefits, too:
As a practice owner, you know how important it is to find solutions that allow you to improve your patient experience and cut costs — and you probably know how rare it is to find something that checks both of those boxes.
Well, there’s good news: The IRS says medical practice owners who complete accessibility requirements on their websites are eligible for a $5000 tax credit.
To assist businesses with complying with the ADA, Section 44 of the IRS Code allows a tax credit for small businesses and Section 190 of the IRS Code allows a tax deduction for all businesses.
The tax credit is available to businesses that have total revenues of $1,000,000 or less in the previous tax year or 30 or fewer full-time employees. This credit can cover 50% of the eligible access expenditures in a year up to $10,250 (maximum credit of $5000). The tax credit can be used to offset the cost of undertaking barrier removal and alterations to improve accessibility; providing accessible formats such as Braille, large print and audio tape; making available a sign language interpreter or a reader for customers or employees, and for purchasing certain adaptive equipment.
The tax deduction is available to all businesses with a maximum deduction of $15,000 per year. The tax deduction can be claimed for expenses incurred in barrier removal and alterations.
In short, if you make the effort to improve accessibility on your website, you have a good chance of being eligible for the credit. To confirm your eligibility and for other details, we recommend you speak about the credit with your CPA or tax preparer.
If you have any questions or want help making your website ADA compliant, get in touch with one of our medical marketing experts.