This year, National Women’s Health Week will be celebrated between Sunday, May 13 and Saturday, May 19. The week-long celebration, which begins on Mother’s Day each year, seeks to raise awareness of women’s health issues and to inform women about the steps they can take to live a healthier lifestyle.
Using strategies from health screenings to social media campaigns, National Women’s Health Week encourages practices such as doctor’s visits, physical activity, healthy eating, and use of mental health services. The event is supported by dozens of federal partners and national sponsors, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and Women’s Health magazine.
As more health and medical information moves online, web accessibility will play an increasingly important role in promoting women’s health initiatives such as the National Women’s Health Week.
How Web Accessibility Helps Promote Women’s Health
According to a Pew study, 80 percent of U.S. Internet users have researched a health-related topic online. With the rise of medical information repositories such as WebMD and Wikipedia, Internet users can be more informed than ever about subjects ranging from diseases and procedures to exercise plans and prescription drugs.
No matter how widespread this information becomes, of course, all of this presupposes that users are able to fully access these websites to begin with. If a series of instructional videos about breast cancer screenings lacks closed captions, for example, then women with hearing disabilities will have more difficulty making use of the information.
People with disabilities also often need regular medical attention to assist with their conditions. Despite forming 19 percent of the U.S. population, people with disabilities account for 27 percent of U.S. healthcare expenditures. Because people with disabilities may face challenges with tasks such as running errands in public or placing phone calls, the Internet is the easiest and most viable option for many of them to manage their health education and medical care.
For the reasons above, making websites accessible to people with disabilities helps ensure that all women can find the information they need about topics in health and medicine in order to live a healthier lifestyle.
Web Accessibility Guidelines for Women’s Health Practitioners
Not only is website accessibility the right thing to do, it’s also a legal requirement for many healthcare practitioners. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination based on disability at “places of public accommodation” such as doctors’ offices.
Because it was passed in 1990, the ADA does not explicitly address web accessibility. However, a series of lawsuits filed under the ADA, which allege that the defendant’s website is insufficiently accessible, have generally resulted in judgments for the plaintiff. As a result, the current de facto understanding is that the ADA does apply to extensions of the business, such as its website.
Organizations such as women’s health practitioners that are looking to improve their website accessibility usually rely on popular standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. These standards include a number of common-sense requirements to make a website accessible, such as:
- Alternative text for non-decorative images
- Closed captions and transcripts for prerecorded videos
- High-contrast color schemes and resizable text
- Website navigation using only the keyboard
- Consistent website layout and navigation
- Clear explanations of errors in user input
The Bureau of Internet Access is proud to support the National Women’s Health Week by encouraging accessibility for websites discussing women’s health and medicine. For more information about web accessibility, visit our blog or schedule a free 30-minute consultation with our accessibility experts.