Web accessibility should be at the forefront of every organisation’s priorities, and the NHS is no exception. Web accessibility goes beyond just a legal requirement as it’s fundamental for ensuring that healthcare services are equitable and inclusive for everyone, regardless of their abilities.
Understanding web accessibility
Web accessibility is about making websites and content accessible for people with disabilities. This encompasses a wide range of impairments, including visual, hearing, cognitive, and motor disabilities. In the context of NHS organisations, this means designing websites and digital services that can be used effectively by patients, healthcare professionals, and the general public, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities.
In the UK, NHS organisations are bound by the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018. These laws require public sector bodies, including NHS entities, to make their websites and mobile apps accessible to everyone. Failure to comply can result in legal consequences and damage to the organisation’s reputation.
Why web accessibility matters for NHS organisations
The NHS serves a diverse population with a wide range of healthcare needs. Web accessibility ensures that everyone, including those with disabilities, can access vital information, book appointments, and engage with healthcare services as and when they need to. Having accessibility at the heart of every page you create on your website ensures that no one is left behind.
Web accessibility is a sign that your organisation is committed to ensuring everyone can access their services. It enhances the NHS’s reputation and provides trust among patients and the public.
Best practices for web accessibility
Accessibility should not be an afterthought. To embrace web accessibility effectively, NHS organisations should consider the following best practices.
Conduct accessibility audits
Regularly audit your website to identify any accessibility issues and areas for improvement. The Government Digital Service recommends an audit is carried out on your website every 12 months by a specialist within your organisation or through a third party such as Mixd.
Train your employees, including content creators and healthcare professionals, on accessibility standards and best practices. This way, you minimise the risk of inaccessible content being added to your website. Here at Mixd, we offer a range of accessibility training courses and provide ongoing support in accessibility.
Provide alternative content
Offer alternative formats of content, such as text transcripts for audio content or captions for videos.
Adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provided by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
Web accessibility is not an option but a moral and legal requirement for NHS organisations. It ensures that healthcare services are inclusive of everyone, regardless of their abilities. In essence, web accessibility for NHS organisations is a crucial step towards a healthier, more inclusive future for healthcare.