During the month of May, people affected by skin cancer, their loved ones, and medical professionals will be spreading awareness of the disease as part of Skin Cancer Awareness Month. With more than 5 million cases in the U.S. every year, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer.
Despite how frequently skin cancer is diagnosed, signs of the disease are often unrecognized or ignored for too long. Because skin cancer is preventable and treatable if detected early, it’s important to diagnose it as soon as possible.
With nearly 1 in 5 people in the U.S. affected by a disability, it’s important that people with disabilities have the same access to skin cancer screenings and information, so that they can catch the disease quickly and begin treatment. With the Internet revolutionizing patient care and education, web accessibility plays a crucial role in skin cancer awareness for people with disabilities.
How Web Accessibility Helps Patients with Disabilities
The rise of search engines like Google and medical repositories such as WebMD has dramatically changed the way that people make medical decisions. With more information than ever at their fingertips, Internet users feel empowered to take a proactive role in their own care and discuss their findings with their doctors.
Patients now can use the Internet to research symptoms and conditions both before and after diagnosis. They can also find information, from patient ratings to publications, that can help them choose which doctors to see and which treatment plans to pursue.
Unless these websites are made accessible, patients with disabilities will not be able to find and benefit from the same information, resulting in poorer-quality outcomes. For example, a website with videos about recognizing the signs of skin cancer will not be as useful to people with hearing disabilities unless the videos are accompanied by closed captions.
Web Accessibility Requirements for Healthcare Providers
Web accessibility is not only beneficial to patients with disabilities, it’s also a legal requirement for many healthcare organizations. According to Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, “places of public accommodation,” including healthcare providers, must not discriminate against people with disabilities. Many legal cases have upheld the interpretation that this anti-discrimination clause applies to an organization’s physical locations as well as virtual outlets such as a business website.
As a result, healthcare providers must demonstrate that their websites are compliant with well-known accessibility standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. WCAG 2.0 require websites to meet several common-sense standards that enhance accessibility for users with disabilities. Some of these requirements include text alternatives for images, navigability using only the keyboard, and closed captions and transcripts.
The Bureau of Internet Access proudly supports Skin Cancer Awareness Month by raising awareness about the importance of web accessibility for quality medical care. To learn more about how you can make your website more accessible, schedule a free 30-minute consultation.