“ADA Compliant” is a phrase that has been buzzing around the online world. Many of our clients and dental practices nationwide have heard about it and have contacted us. What does it mean for your practice? Are there legal issues if the rules are not met? Here, we will provide some general information about taking steps to make sure your website offers the best service for every potential patient who tries to access it.
ADA: Then and Now
Before the internet became a part of daily life, ADA lawsuits only involved physical locations. But over the past year or two, dentists have received letters from legal offices claiming that their site does not comply with The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The letters mention legal action unless the practice agrees to pay money to settle the dispute out of court. To prevent a legal battle, many fearful dentists agree to the settlement, but this route may be unnecessary if preventive changes are made regarding your website.
In 1990, The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed as a federal law. This was created to protect the rights of disabled people and prevent discrimination. This includes accessing public buildings, requiring public locations to be accessible to disabled patrons by offering options such as wheelchair ramps and handicapped parking. As internet dependence increases, the laws have yet to catch up to help establish a standard for disabled internet users.
Rules for an “ADA Compliant” Website
Official regulations for website accessibility will be released in the spring of 2018. Currently, there is no legal definition of an “ADA Compliant Website.” Different state courts currently have different views on website standards, ranging from all websites must be accessible to websites are not required to be accessible. Check with your state to find out specific guidelines regarding website accessibility.
Current ADA regulations do not mention websites and their accessibility requirements. There are only the suggested guidelines to work with to prepare for these official changes that are expected to be released next year.
Clients that have websites hosted with Viviosites have had their dental websites changed to meet the suggested ADA accessibility guidelines. If your site is not hosted with us, having your website updated to meet the Level AA Success Criteria or running your site through an accessibility evaluation tool is a great place to start to avoid accessibility non-compliance. If you have any questions regarding ADA Compliance and your dental practice, please feel free to call our office at (800) 227-2513.