The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 to ensure that those with visual, ambulatory, or other disabilities were not discriminated against based on their disability. Since the passage of that legislation, digital tools have become an integral part of our work and personal lives, making it critical that we make them accessible to those with various disabilities so they can perform their jobs.
That ethos is part of what has spurred Ingenious Med — which prides itself on creating easy-to-use tools that help healthcare organizations fully and accurately capture revenue — to audit and enhance its website and mobile applications so they adhere to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The latest version of these guidelines is scheduled to be published in June, 2022.
Nathan Riske, VP of Research & Development at Harris Novum, says, “Our team cares deeply about accessibility and inclusivity. We’ve been working hard to make sure our solutions are more accessible to those with hearing or sight impairments.”
Bryan Goble, Ingenious Med’s Director of Product Marketing, explains, “We’ve undertaken a rigorous and ongoing process of reviewing best practices and guidelines, auditing our existing apps as well as creating internal accessibility standards that will guide all future work. It’s a large but important task, and our product development team is making great progress. We’ve always been concerned with creating a good user experience and now we’re committed to ensuring that those with disabilities are included.”
Reduce Risk: Make Sure Your Vendors are Compliant
The ability to comply with WCAG and other guidelines is one of many factors that healthcare organizations should take into account when evaluating prospective vendors like Ingenious Med.
Goble advises, “The tools and applications that your workforce is using are supposed to be accessible, so when you’re looking for a new solution, determine whether the vendor meets accessibility standards.”
“Any entity doing business with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) or other government agency should make sure that the software they use in their organization is accessible,” cautions Goble, “or they’re potentially at risk for fines up to $55,000 for the first violation and $110,000 for subsequent violations. Most healthcare providers fall under this accessibility provision, but very few realize it or think about it.”
Specific Examples of Improved Accessibility
A few examples of how Ingenious Med is making its website and apps more accessible in compliance with WCAG include:
- Provide text alternatives for non-text content: Developers ensure that alternate text is included each time an image is added to a page and are creating standards to preserve compliance going forward.
- Make it easier to see and hear content: All of the elements on each page are defined so that screen readers can detect and read the content to someone with visual impairment.
- Make content appear and operate in predictable ways: All input fields are subject to a designated tab order, so that those using keyboards can navigate through the different form fields to find the functions they need using the keyboard control. Each element also needs to have a consistent approach to labels so that the label and corresponding input are tied together to improve the overall experience.
Rigorous Processes and Committee Foster Ongoing Compliance
Ingenious Med now conducts regular reviews and has developed a rigorous process around product compliance.
“We’ve established a committee that evaluates any new legislation or issues around data privacy rights at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure that that our platform is in compliance with anything that applies to us,” Goble explains. “We also meet regularly to review with our legal team what’s changing in the landscape and where we need to take action.”
Riske contributes, “We anticipate that making these changes will take our team hundreds of hours over the course of a year or longer. We see that as time well invested to make sure our products meet the needs of all end users. And we’re excited to be offering our customers solutions that are WCAG compliant and a step ahead of many competitors.”