3 Simple Ways Pharma Brands Can Improve Accessibility
Millions of people with disabilities who depend on life-saving medications and critical vaccine updates have trouble accessing information online. Digital accessibility leader Allyable describes three steps pharmaceutical companies can take to be more accessible.
Today, more than ever, it is vitally important for businesses in all industries to prioritize the accessibility of their websites and digital content for people who have disabilities. Within the healthcare field especially, this population requires particular attention, yet far too many barriers still exist on the internet.
At least 95% of the leading websites worldwide are not compliant with accessibility standards such as the international Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which provide a foundation for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 in the United States, EN-301-549 in the European Union, AODA in Canada, and many other countries.
How can consumer-facing pharmaceutical companies make their online presence more accessible? It may seem overwhelming, but the experts at Allyable make it simple. In this article, we recommend three simple ways to improve web accessibility.
Why Accessible Websites are Important
The United Nations estimates that over 1.85 billion people—23% of the world’s population—live with some form of disability, such as auditory, cognitive, physical, speech, and visual challenges. Not only does this huge emerging market, which is larger than China, have $1.9 trillion in annual disposable income, but it influences a total of $13 trillion of disposable income each year when family and friends are included—representing an astonishing 66% of the global population.
In the United States, there are 61 million adults, representing 26% of the population over age 18, with at least one disability; nearly half are people over age 75 with age-related issues. This chart from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) breaks down the prevalence of disabilities by category in the U.S.:
In general, people with disabilities use more medications than those without disabilities, yet they often must overcome tremendous hurdles to access critical information online about their prescriptions, vaccinations (flu, coronavirus, and more), and treatments for a range of other conditions. For example, customers with low vision or blindness using screen reader technology may find themselves shut out of certain functions. And those with intellectual or learning disabilities have an increased risk of misusing prescription medications, especially if the provided content is difficult to follow or comprehend.
Conforming to legal regulations for accessibility will not only help keep disabled patients safer but will also reduce the prevalence of interrupted website visits—statistics show that ⅔ of shopping carts are abandoned by disabled consumers who cannot complete their online transactions due to accessibility barriers.
Another important consideration is that ADA and WCAG conformance protects pharmaceutical companies from litigation. Accessibility lawsuits, which are tripling each year, can end up being very expensive, both financially and publicity-wise. While a majority of defendants have been retail or e-commerce businesses, a growing number of healthcare industry corporations are now being targeted. What’s more, many non-compliant companies have been sued more than once for the same violations, either by multiple plaintiffs or for various different online properties (website, app, etc.).
Three Ways to Improve Your Accessibility
How can you make your pharmaceutical website and assets accessible for customers who have mobility, cognitive, auditory, speech, visual, neurological, and age-related disabilities? The digital accessibility team at Allyable recommends this three-step approach:
- Assessment – Test your website and other digital assets for ADA/WCAG compliance
- Remediation – Address A and AA accessibility violations automatically and manually
- Development – Build new assets with accessibility in mind using technology
Testing for WCAG Compliance
In the past, violations of accessibility guidelines meant that the source code of websites and other content had to be manually reviewed and tested by programmers. Fortunately, this process can now be automated with an accessibility checker that uses scanning software to quickly identify compliance errors.
Allyable’s 360 digital accessibility platform provides a state-of-the-art scanning solution—a11yAudit™—that automatically scans and audits WCAG compliance errors, sorting them into several categories: WCAG Version 2.0 A and AA and Version 2.1 A, AA, and AAA levels (minimum, recommended, and high).
Remediating Accessibility Violations
Once those compliance errors have been identified by category, they need to be corrected. Again, technology comes to the rescue! Although some issues still need to be addressed manually, such as adding video captions or providing descriptive alternative text for specific images, other common errors can be automatically fixed, saving you time, effort, and money.
Allyable offers the most advanced solution on the market for accessibility remediation, with its revolutionary a11yFix™ module. a11yFix incorporates 24/7 continuous monitoring, advanced AI, and image processing to consistently correct most identified and repeated errors automatically. No-code wizards—supported by a growing knowledge base—simplify the manual remediation process, allowing pharmaceutical web developers to easily fix a wide range of internet and intranet digital assets with reliable consistency and accuracy. What’s more, a11yFix seamlessly integrates with most existing processes, project management software, and support systems.
Develop with Accessibility in Mind
For organizations who are building new internet or intranet assets from scratch, it is far easier and cost-effective to integrate accessibility from the very start, rather than as an afterthought. That is why the Allyable team spent years designing the best accessibility development tool available anywhere: a11yDev™—the only accessibility plugin that digital creators need to develop assets with accessibility in mind and meet compliance guidelines in the design phase.
a11yDev provides a safe, easy way to debug, audit, update, and maintain your digital assets, making them accessible to users with and without disabilities. It enables identification, reporting, and manual remediation of accessibility violations, directly from the browser, with real-time, wizard-based digital accessibility training.
The a11yDev module can be fully integrated with CI/CD platforms and integrates with a11yFix and other Allyable360 tools to leverage its capabilities for different product life cycles and stages. Pre-production mode allows your internal team to test accessibility before going live.
What’s Your Next Step for Accessibility?
Some pharma companies choose to address compliance testing, remediation, and development in-house, by assigning dedicated employees to this task, which may keep them from performing their regular responsibilities. Others outsource to a third-party service provider, which can often be costly. But now there is a fast, easy, and affordable solution to ensure digital accessibility compliance for all three of these critical areas of focus.
The Allyable360° Digital Accessibility Platform provides the most comprehensive suite of advanced tools to find and remediate accessibility barriers in existing websites and develop new assets with accessibility in mind. Using the most advanced, cutting-edge technology such as AI crowdsourcing and image processing, our revolutionary suite of tools offers a simple, secure, low-code solution to make online content more accessible.
Many pharmaceutical companies already appreciate the effectiveness of Allyable360, which has successfully set them on the path to creating more accessible digital assets, while saving time, effort, and money. They also find that by addressing accessibility for their customers with disabilities, their SEO rankings have dramatically improved as well, boosting their performance and bottom line.
Allyable is an award-winning, ISO 27001-certified technology company that is committed to keeping our clients’ valuable data 100% secure and confidential. Our products are ISO 27001 certified and our processes comply with all global privacy regulations, including the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the U.S. Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the State of California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
Explore how Allyable can help your pharma brand achieve digital accessibility compliance in three simple steps. We invite you to schedule a complimentary walk-through with a member of our team.