Over the past two decades, our lives have been digital – now more than ever. Today it's almost a requirement that we do everything online. As a result, smartphones and tablets are becoming more common in people's everyday lives. How we shop, college education and even healthcare have changed massively over the course of that period. People are starting to use document accessibility tools to ensure that their websites, apps, or documents are easily accessible to people with disabilities. 

While many people feel like they are well-versed in digital accessibility in healthcare, many more feel lost in terms of what this entails. It is essential for healthcare providers and their staff to understand how they can make their services as easily accessible as possible so that everyone can benefit from them, and this blog explains the same. 

What is digital accessibility?

Digital accessibility is the technical practice of making information and services accessible to people with disabilities.

Digital accessibility can be achieved by ensuring that websites and other digital resources are accessible to all users, regardless of disability. This means that users should be able to navigate the site without difficulty and find information without asking for help.

The most important thing about digital accessibility is that it's about providing equal opportunity for everyone, rather than just those with disabilities. People who are blind or have low vision still need access to information to make informed decisions about their health and well-being.

Why is it important in the healthcare industry?

Digital accessibility is essential in the healthcare industry because it helps improve care quality. Patients with disabilities and chronic diseases can benefit from digital access, especially if they are unable to leave their homes or cannot travel long distances.

Digital accessibility also helps to reduce costs by reducing the need for paper records, fax machines, and photocopiers. Digital records can be stored in a central location and accessed by patients or caregivers at any time. This allows for easy transfer of information between providers and specialists without paper records or any other physical record-keeping device.                   

How can healthcare providers make services more accessible?

1. Keep in mind people with disabilities before and during website development

When creating a website, it's important to remember people with disabilities before and during development.

Some tips for making your website more accessible include:

Include text alternatives for images and videos. This includes captions and transcripts for audio files, text descriptions for images, and alternate text for videos.

Ensure that login pages are accessible. Ensure the login form is large enough to read by users with impaired vision or hearing and does not require users to enter their credentials repeatedly.

Make sure the site can be accessed via a screen reader or other screen reader compatible tool such as VoiceOver on iOS devices or Jaws on macOS computers.

2. Integrate Assistive Technology

Assistive technology is a broad term used to describe the tools and technologies individuals use to improve their access to and participation in services. The most common types of assistive technologies include:

Speech recognition software that allows users to control computer functions with voice commands. 

Magnification software that enables users to enlarge text on the screen for easier reading and writing

Accessible mobile devices allow people with visual or mobility impairments to use smartphones, tablets, and laptops. 

3. Offer Different Content Formats

Your website should be accessible in multiple ways. Text alternatives should be provided for images, videos should have transcripts and closed captions, and audio descriptions should be created for video files.

Accessibility Solutions: Manual Audits vs. Automated Scans 

Manual Audits

The manual audits are the best way to identify accessibility issues. Manual audits can be conducted by healthcare providers, patients, or their family members. These audits highlight all barriers preventing a person from accessing healthcare services. Manual audits are conducted in a formal manner, where a healthcare professional conducts an audit and then presents his findings to the team.

Automated Scans

Automated scans are an effective way for digital accessibility solutions in healthcare to discover problems with the website or mobile app. This method involves using an automated tool that looks at the website or mobile application and flags all the points that need to be fixed. These points can include everything from broken links to poor design and usability issues. In addition, automated scans also look at how accessible a website is by measuring its performance speed and responsiveness.

Automated scans are very useful because they can help you fix issues quickly without having to do any additional work yourself.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, these were the few basic steps you can implement to ensure better digital accessibility options. By keeping these key factors in mind when building your digital product, you can follow best practices for accommodating users with various types of disabilities. The more accessible your digital product is, the easier it will be for everyone to use.