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The Latest Hospital Digital Marketing Articles

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Is Your Hospital Website ADA Compliant?

by Sara Foster | Nov 15, 2018

This article was written by Jessica Levco, a healthcare writer who covered HCIC18 for Greystone.Net.

Here’s a scenario that every hospital marketer dreads: image of ADA wheelchair logo

You’ve gone through a long, brutal web design process. After it’s over, everything looks pretty and perfect. The only problem? It’s not ADA compliant.

A similar situation happened to Jennifer Vazales, digital strategy and marketing manager at VCU Health System last year. But she was able to get it fixed, with the help of Keir Bradshaw, executive vice president of strategic services at MERGE ATL.

At the 22nd Annual Greystone.Net Healthcare Internet Conference (HCIC) in Scottsdale, marketers learned about what this duo went through during “The Journey to Web Accessibility Compliance.”

The whole goal of making a website ADA compliant is increasing usability and making it easier to share information. Right now, it’s not the law for websites to be ADA compliant, but there is a set of recommendations (called WCAG 2.0 AA) that encourages organizations to make sure content is accessible to all.

This is something hospital marketers need to know about because in 2017, there were more than 800 federal lawsuits about allegedly inaccessible websites.

During the presentation, the two shared what they learned about making VCU Health’s website ADA compliant and encouraged marketers to do the same.

“Even though it’s not formalized law, hospitals need to put out a best effort to meet standards and protect themselves from litigation,” Bradshaw says.

Not only that, but Vazales told marketers that VCU Health’s website looks even better now, after making it ADA compliant. With her before-and-after slides, she showed how font-sizes increased, color schemes were easier to see and pages were less cluttered with multiple CTAs.

“It turns out that being ADA compliant is good for everyone — not just people with disabilities,” Vazales says. “It has even helped our SEO because we’ve had to be descriptive with all of our tags and codes.”

But it wasn’t an easy journey to get there. About sixty days after the hospital launched the website redesign, they got a mandate from their general counsel in September 2017 that said they needed to become compliant. The trick was to get this done in a timely fashion (it took about a year) and not to sacrifice the brand identity.

At the time, their SiteImprove score was at 51. They needed to get that number higher. They asked themselves these questions, to help guide boost their numbers:

  • Perceivable: Is there anything on my website that someone with a visual or hearing disability would be unable to perceive?
  • Operable: Can my website be navigated with only a keyboard? Does the website make completing tasks easy?
  • Understandable: Is my content clearly written and easy to understand?
  • Robust: Does my website work on all the latest browsers and devices?

Not only did visual elements have to change, there were lots of things hidden things within the hospital’s website that needed to be edited or deleted.

“For example, all the videos needed real-time closed captioning and none of the PDFs worked because those aren’t ADA compliant,” Bradshaw says.

But it turns out, making all these tweaks paid off. Now, their SiteImprove score is at 95.1. After going through the process, here’s the advice Vazales shared with marketers:

“It’s more difficult and costly to attempt to bring an existing site into compliance,” Vazales says. “That’s why you want to make sure you insist on having it be compliant in your next redesign.”  

You can hear this HCIC18 concurrent session, complete with slides, in its entirety with Rewind! Rewind – audio recordings of all concurrent and keynote sessions, synced with the slide decks - will be available in December, 2018. Click here to sign up for Rewind.


  • healthcare internet conference
  • web accessibility
  • ADA compliance