“XYZ Health is an online health management portal offered to its subscribers by XYZ Health Insurance Company. A subscriber must register in the portal in order to avail various programs and benefits.
Scenario 1: A subscriber with low vision tried to register using the registration screen of the portal. The registration screen has a white background with light gray fonts making it difficult for the subscriber to read the text. The screen does not allow the text to be zoomed to a larger size thereby making it difficult for the subscriber to read the text and enter their personal information for registration.
Scenario 2: Upon logging in to the portal, there are helpful videos on a variety of wellness topics. A subscriber with hearing impairment wants to watch these wellness videos. However, the videos do not offer closed captioning or transcription thereby making the subscriber not benefiting from the wellness videos on the portal.”
The two scenarios listed above are among many real-world scenarios that individuals with disabilities can encounter when dealing with healthcare. From scheduling doctor visits, filling out medical history details, reading statement of benefits, accessing wellness content, etc., healthcare companies and providers needs to understand the importance of accessibility and how it impacts the population of individuals with disabilities.
Section 508 of The Rehabilitation Act requires federal government agencies to make all of its electronic information and technology fully usable by individuals with disabilities. This means that websites, software, multimedia files, documents, etc. must meet specific accessibility requirements to comply with the law. However, there are no regulations for non-federal entities such as hospitals, doctors, healthcare facilities, insurance companies to adhere to Section 508 standards. Not having a digital accessibility plan and non-adherence to these accessibility standards may open the door for penalties due to discrimination, loss of government funding, lawsuits, loss of customer base, etc.
In addition to Section 508, there is another law pertaining to digital accessibility. Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act prohibits health programs or facilities that receive federal funds from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. In doing so, it incorporates existing federal civil rights laws, such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and applies them to federally funded health care and health insurance programs.
Digital accessibility makes huge sense from a business perspective. If a business cannot offer accessible products and services, the business may lose those customers to their competitors who are more accessible friendly entities. People with disabilities usually have higher healthcare needs than the average person. These individuals must have fair and equal access to your website, portals, mobile application and other digital services, just like everyone else.