According to the CDC, one in every four American adults identifies as living with a disability. And according to the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, one in every five Canadians identifies as living with a disability. As our communities continue to become more accessible with ramps, nearby parking, and special accommodations, it’s time technology becomes more accessible too. (1)(2)

What is digital accessibility?

While you may be able to use your digital devices with little to no issue, many people don’t experience this same luxury. Whether it’s vision impairment, color blindness, mobility barriers, or something else, there is no shortage of hurdles that can get in the way of digital accessibility.

Digital accessibility refers to how accessible a website and platform is — regardless of disability. Continuous effort and software updates are needed to create and foster an accessible and inclusive website and platform for everyone. (3)

Why is digital accessibility important?

Color blindness affects 5-10 percent of the US population. Color blindness not only makes it difficult to see a wide variety of colors, but it can also make it nearly impossible to read some text or view some images. (4)

Using your computer’s mouse to navigate a website may be second nature to you, but for others, it can be an impossible task. Having more than one way to navigate a website provides options for people who may not have the mobility to use a conventional mouse.

 

digital accessibility in healthtech
Using a larger, thicker font with contrasting colors is a small but important step for accessibility.

 

There are many areas in which software can be inaccessible, especially for people with vision impairment or upper body mobility limitations. Creating an accessible and inclusive website and platform ensures that everyone is able to use software with ease — the way it should be.

Digital accessibility done well

Over the years, many major tech companies — such as Facebook, Apple, and Twitter — have implemented a series of updates to their products and platforms in order to achieve digital accessibility.

Facebook created a designated Accessibility Team in 2011. Since then, they’ve implemented keyboard shortcuts for people who don’t have the mobility to use a mouse, automated caption generation for people with hearing impairment, and navigation assistance to make it easier for people who rely on shortcuts to perform actions on the website.

The employees of Apple have dedicated themselves to making their products as accessible and inclusive as possible. Apple gives everyone the necessary tools to adjust the products to their individual needs. You can take advantage of the headphone accommodations, audio descriptions, eye-tracking feature, and “magnifier” tool, just to name a few. Most recently, Apple has launched the ‘Speak Selection’ tool, available in 40+ languages, allowing users to listen to text. Apple provides the options and support needed so everyone can use their products without difficulty.

 

digital accessibility in healthtech apple speak selection tool
Audio features, such as Apple’s ‘Speak Selection’ tool will be an important accessibility focus for all tech companies in the future.

 

With both an Accessibility Team and Accessibility account, Twitter has taken many steps over the past eight years to improve the platform’s digital accessibility. Some of these changes include screen reader software support, the option to increase the contrast of colors, and the ability to include alt text descriptions for photos.

Why is digital accessibility important in the HealthTech industry?

Nearly 60 million Americans and 6 million Canadians live with a disability. Many practitioner healthcare websites don’t comply with the accessibility regulations and guidelines. This makes it difficult for people with disabilities to receive the care they need — the care that others are so easily able to benefit from. (5)(6)(7)

The importance of digital accessibility doesn’t stop there. According to Deloitte, when designed right, digital health tools can improve equity among the population. It’s well known that the healthcare industry hasn’t always treated all people fairly, particularly when it comes to underrepresented minorities. Accessible software and tools can help to bridge this gap. (8)

Health Tech Base describes HealthTech as “the broader term which covers any technology or offering within the consumer care, medical care, or broader healthcare system that has been enabled or revolutionized by modern computing and/or engineering.” (9)

Since the HealthTech industry exists in order to improve the quality of lives, it’s important that the HealthTech industry is able to improve the quality of life for everyone — including people with disabilities.

Fullscript’s commitment to digital accessibility

Over time, we’ve made hundreds of changes to our website and platform to make it a more accessible and inclusive space for all of our practitioners and patients. Some of these updates include:

  • Brand colors: We’ve introduced higher contrast colors into our brand, making it easier for people with visual impairments to see and use our software
  • Text and imagery: We’ve increased the size and thickness of our website and platform font and have created descriptor tags for all images, improving the virtual experience for people with visual impairments
  • Interactive elements: We’ve optimized hundreds of interactive website elements for a more transparent user experience. Updates include: buttons, search bars, forms, tags, labels, and more
  • Navigation: We’ve improved website navigation for people who aren’t able to use a mouse, making the website easy to navigate with alternate tools such as a keyboard

These updates have created an elevated experience for everyone — whether you identify as having a disability or not.

We’re just getting started

We have a never-ending commitment to accessibility. We’ll continue to make improvements to our product and platform to ensure an accessible and inclusive experience for everyone.

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  1. A. (2019, March 25). Canadian Survey on Disability – Reports A demographic, employment and income profile of Canadians with disabilities aged 15 years and over, 2017. LDAC-ACTA. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.ldac-acta.ca/canadian-survey-on-disability-reports-a-demographic-employment-and-income-profile-of-canadians-with-disabilities-aged-15-years-and-over-2017/
  2. Canada, E. A. S. D. (2021, April 6). Making an accessible Canada for people with disabilities – Canada.ca. Government of Canada. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/accessible-canada.html
  3. CBS News. (2014, August 27). Who’s most at risk for color blindness. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/race-gender-color-blindness-risk/#:%7E:text=Zachary%20Lehr%20has%20trouble%20distinguishing,to%20National%20Institutes%20of%20Health
  4. Disability impacts all of us. (2020, September 16). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/infographic-disability-impacts-all.html
  5. Essential Accessibility. (2019, September). The State of Digital Accessibility in Healthcare. https://www.essentialaccessibility.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/the-state-of-digital-accessibility.pdf
  6. Healthtech overview – Global HealthTech Review. (n.d.). Health Tech Base. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.healthtechbase.org/overview/
  7. Initiative, W. W. A. (2021, October 6). Introduction to Web Accessibility. Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.w3.org/WAI/fundamentals/accessibility-intro/
  8. Ritchey, C. (2021, January 21). Digital Health Tools for Mobile Devices can Help to Advance Equity. . .if Designed Right. Deloitte United States. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/blog/health-care-blog/2021/digital-health-tools-for-mobile-devices-can-help-to-advance-equi.html
  9. Taylor, D. M. (2018, November). Americans with Disabilities (No. P70-152). United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2018/demo/p70-152.pdf