Written by Scott Craig|Posted on May 18, 2018
For designers who work in the healthcare industry, creating UX design to accommodate HIPAA laws has become a gold standard. Protecting patient privacy is a given and designing software to transmit information securely is no longer a rare skill, rather just a specialty. However, as of January 18, 2018, there is now a new challenge to overcome: compliance with 508 standards for healthcare organizations. These standards now require federal websites and software to be accessible by people with disabilities.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was the first law that required that all federal agencies provide individuals with disabilities with reasonable accommodation. These regulations were updated in 1998 to include section 508, the Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards, which extended the existing regulations to digital and electronic technology. However, since it has been nearly two decades since its last update, the Access Board implemented a new “refresh” to the 508 standards, which went into effect on January 18, 2018. These new standards for UX design on healthcare websites and apps bring the language up to date for websites and software applications.
To be compliant with 508 Standards, your website and application must be accessible by people:
Furthermore, if your website or application requires hardware, this hardware must meet compliance standards as well. Hardware devices with user interfaces must also be compliant and/or allow for a user to attach and utilize their own assistive devices (e.g. a screen reader).
With the new update, all government healthcare organizations and the vendors that they use are now required to be in compliance with 508 standards. This not only impacts federal organizations but any software, device, or website which is used by federal healthcare services including Medicaid, Medicare, insurance exchanges, veterans, military healthcare, and more.
All organizations and their vendors will need to update their software and websites to be in compliance or face government fines.
The challenge that organizations now face is that very few UX designers are familiar with UX design for 508 compliance. It’s a highly skilled type of designing and requires comprehensive understanding how different design aspects impact people with varying levels of disability. For example, there are strict guidelines on how websites can use strobing images, as more than three flashes per second is a known trigger for seizures. A designer must also understand how adaptive devices, such as screen readers, will read the text on their screen and the design must accommodate for this.
In order to facilitate the movement of organizations to compliance, the government has released a variety of toolkits for references. At the top of this, it is stressed that designers must first understand the core foundations for web accessibility: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Within these foundations, they are then to adhere to the following guidelines:
While the toolkits provide great information on how to get started, in order to ensure compliance it is best to work with an expert UX designer in healthcare with experience with 508 standards. For more information and a free estimation on bringing your site or application up to 508 standards, schedule a free consultation. Give us a call at (800) 863-6914 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Kirkland, WA, USA