We believe everyone should have access to the very best in dental care, and feel welcomed and comfortable from the moment they enter our doors. That’s why we’ve put so much thought into our waiting rooms, treatment rooms, and front desk staff — and now, our company website.
You may be familiar with how construction decisions (and yes, furniture selections) affect people with different abilities: wheelchair ramps, wide hallways, braille, coloring and wording on signs. But did you know even the smallest website design considerations can make a big impact on peoples’ experiences and access?
Our patients come from all generations and abilities in Madison, Verona and the surrounding areas. So, when it was time to redesign our website, we wanted it to reflect our values of providing help and transparency for ALL our patients regardless of their ability. We went the extra mile to make sure that our website — like our office buildings — would be ADA compliant.
You may be wondering what the American Dental Association has to do with websites. When we refer to ADA in this case, we mean the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted in in 1990 to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the same opportunities and spaces as everyone else.
That’s why businesses are legally required to provide things like:
- handicap accessible parking / bathrooms
- lower counters
- automatic doors
- wide hallways
- and more
A year later, the first website of the World Wide Web came online. At the time, lawmakers couldn’t have predicted how essential websites would become to everyday life. Nor did the ADA have specific rules for website use, and so many people living with disabilities weren’t granted the same access as their able-bodied friends.
Fast Forward to Now
Today, with nearly 2 billion websites and counting, the ADA has created guidelines to help websites comply and requires certain businesses to provide ADA-compliant websites to ensure proper accommodations are met.
These functions are built to assist those individuals who are visually- or hearing-impaired, and for those who require navigation by voice. While there are no specific standards in place, most businesses rely on the “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines” (WCAG), created by the World Wide Web Consortium. These standards guide web developers as they create content aimed at helping people living with disabilities better navigate websites.
- A person who is visually impaired will rely on a screen reader to listen to the content of a webpage so they can bank online, order groceries or read their emails.
- A person who is hearing impaired will need captions on videos.
- People who can’t manipulate a mouse or trackpad need to be able to navigate through a keyboard or other means.
- And it’s important that someone with epilepsy can look at a computer screen without being disturbed by flashing graphics.
We learned there were many choices about our website design that would make it easier for people to access the information they need.
New ADA Compliant Website Features
Here are some of the changes you can apply with our updated features:
- Make the font bigger and/or more legible
- Space the letters further apart
- Create more contrast between colors
- Switch the website to black and white, which is useful if you have color blindness
- Have the webpage read to you at varying speeds
- Stop animations on the website
- Make the cursor (arrow) extra large
- Add a reading guide so you don’t lose your place on the page
- Highlight all the links so you don’t have to wonder where to click
In addition to making design choices that would help our website become more accessible, we also installed a special widget to help.
See that icon in the top right corner of our website? When you tap it on your phone or click it on your computer screen, you’ll activate a dropdown Accessibility Menu. You can customize your Associated Dentist’s website experience to meet your needs, or talk to our front desk staff who are trained to help you learn how to use this special new feature.
And of course, you can always call us with any questions you may have.
We’re excited to be the first Madison dental office to have a website that is ADA compliant. We believe an accessible website is an important part of doing whatever it takes for our patients to receive the best care.