For most of us, “the Internet” has become a ubiquitous presence that has seamlessly woven itself into the very fabric of our lives. Many of us have come to rely on online tools and mobile apps to help us manage our daily existence. With the rise of virtual care, technology-enabled healthcare services are playing an increasingly important role in helping people get well and stay well. However, not everyone has equal access to these vital resources today.
Despite the apparent sophistication and ease of our online experiences these days, barriers continue to exist for certain populations. These populations include people living with physical disabilities (e.g. vision impairment or limited mobility) or situational disabilities (e.g., temporary impairments like a broken arm).
Contrary to popular belief, these barriers affect a large number of people. According to the CDC:
- 13.7% of U.S. adults have mobility challenges
- 5.9% of U.S. adults have difficulty hearing
- 4.6% of U.S. adults have vision impairment
These individuals are often also ones who would benefit the most from our services: the CDC estimates that 1 in 3 adults with disabilities do not have a usual healthcare provider. As part of our commitment to equitable access to care for all, Grand Rounds has undertaken significant efforts to improve the accessibility of our digital experience. At the end of 2020, we completed the first accessibility audit of our web and mobile experience using Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA guidelines, an industry standard.
Based on the findings of the audit, we made substantial enhancements to our digital experience. Some of the examples include:
- Increasing the space between clickable items to improve ease of navigation across both mobile and web
- Adding back-end labeling throughout to make our site compatible with screen readers (an assistive technology used by the visually impaired)
- Improving the readability of our virtual insurance card feature within our Enhanced and Premium Navigation solutions (see below for the before and after)
We transitioned the virtual ID card from an image to text, which better supports screen readers. We also made the text responsive to size settings on iOS and Android, to help users who prefer larger font sizes.
This work will continue long into the future, as accessibility is never a “one and done” effort. We have integrated an ongoing focus on accessibility into our product roadmap, and we are excited to continue raising the standard in access to digital health for everyone, everywhere.