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Let me be crystal clear and say that this is NOT fake news, I’ve cited sources at the bottom to prove it 🙂 and I am writing this to inform and help every dentist I can possibly reach!
I’ve made it my own personal mission to help as many dentists as possible and I personally can’t stand by and let dentists remain targets for legal claims.
It is not my intention to scare you...even though this topic can be scary on the surface, please allow me to explain in detail. At the end of this blog post, you’ll know exactly what to do and believe it or not, have an easy fix for all these issues.
I recently broke this story in Dental Economics Magazine…
Recently, I received a frantic note from a very worried Dallas area dentist, whose name is being withheld for obvious privacy reasons.
“Hi Graig, do you know if you or someone you know can fix my website so it is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act criteria? Thanks. Please let me know ASAP as there is some litigation going on…
– Dr. Roger”
“…some litigation” is putting it lightly. He was threatened to be sued in Federal Court for his website not being compliant with the American with Disabilities Act and it’s costing him thousands to fight this. And not too mention if his patient base or the state dental board “got wind” of this pending Federal lawsuit.
This is NOT a scam and is 100% real and scary.
A little background: Title III of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides for people with disabilities to have equal access to buildings, public restrooms, restaurants, and more.
Recently, Federal Court cases have ruled that the law applies directly to businesses websites. For example, those who are visually impaired can’t see images, so the site should include appropriate tags and data to “speak” what those images look like. More importantly, as noted more fully below, The National Law Review has confirmed the DOJ has pushed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines called “WCAG 2.0 AA” (which are complicated accessibility standards) through its enforcement activities and therefore practices and other businesses should NOT delay in making their site accessible.
The DOJ intervened in a lawsuit brought by the National Federation of the Blind against a tax return preparation company. The DOJ has secured agreements with other businesses to make their websites and/or mobile applications conform to WCAG 2.0 AA. The DOJ in it’s settlement agreements have suggested that it will require compliance with privately designed standards called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”) 2.0 in its enforcement actions.
Although the ADA does not award monetary damages to private parties bringing ADA lawsuits, it does provide for does allow for “reasonable” attorneys fees, which means big money is on the line, which can end up being astronomical in the eyes of many small and medium sized businesses. Understand that if you get a threatening attorney letter, you’ve already lost, it just gets more expensive and stressful as time goes on. Spend a little money now in order to make your site compliant, and save a TON of money down the road.
5 Things You Need To Know:
- I understand that this is frustrating to have to comply with yet another regulation and you really want to push this under the rug, but regardless of what state you’re in or what type or size of practice you have…
- Right now your website is virtually guaranteed NOT to be ADA (WCAG 2.0 AA) compliant, and it needs to be, even if your website was built by one of the top companies in our industry or maybe you paid for an expensive custom website. (and your existing website company doesn’t KNOW or CARE how to fix this for you…)
- We’ve been fielding phone calls from practice owners who report that there are a lot of website firms who unaware of this situation and are in complete disarray on this topic…
- Telling customers they’re compliant when they’re not, or that the law “isn’t in place yet” just to save that customer from leaving their company and subsequently putting you at risk. If your website provider is a major dental website service provider chances are you are NOT compliant with accessibility guidelines (WCAG 2.0 AA). After careful research and direct inquiries, it appears most dental website providers don’t even KNOW what “compliance” even is.
- Perform a WCAG 2.0 AA accessibility test on your website, we offer a FREE test to any dentist that wants one done. No obligation, No Pressure, you need to know the facts and we’re happy to talk to you about if your site is accessible or not (see below or click here for more details )
- There are a lot of rumors floating around and even some dental associations giving REALLY bad advice telling doctors to add an “accessibility link” to their website, which just makes the potential violation of the law much much worse! You’re basically admitting you know your site is not accessible, the law exists, but you choose to ignore it, which in turn puts a “bulls eye” on your back for frivolous attorneys to come after you.
- This is a VERY real threat and you need to take this seriously, the law is not going away. If you don’t have a website that is 100% American with Disabilities Act (WCAG 2.0 AA) compliant, you are 100% at risk for a potential federal lawsuit.
- Some highly unscrupulous attorneys out there have started shaking down dentists and other businesses that are non-compliant with “demand letters” threatening to file federal lawsuits…not because they care about providing accessible web browsing conditions for all, but because they see dollar signs and threaten to sue. Often these suits get settled out of court for thousands of dollars, and in the end, you still need to make your site accessible!
- There is also a REAL impact when it comes to your referrals and new patient flow and this is not just another “regulation” or “law” you have to comply with. It just so happens to also be the right thing to do especially when it comes to making your website accessible to disabled readers, just like having accessible bathrooms is the right thing to do.
- According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 5 American adults live with a disability, which means you have patients right now who are disabled trying to access your non-accessible website, putting you at even MORE risk. You must lend a helping hand to these patients because they want to become a devoted patient and that is why they are visiting your website in the first place. They have teeth just like the rest of us 🙂 And without the ability to browse through your website like everyone else, they won’t become patients, their friends and family members won’t become patients aside from being more likely to report you to Federal government and hire an attorney. All of these outcomes are bad.
- Not too mention it’s the right thing to do. Just like having a wheel chair ramp at your building is the right thing to do. Having an accessible website actually gives you a competitive advantage because you know your competition is unlikely to be compliant and not properly serve this patient base, which opens up an entirely new opportunity for good PR in your community and practice growth.
With that said, you do not need to panic. I personally don’t care who you hire to make your website accessible, but please DO make it accessible to the WCAG 2.0 AA guidelines ASAP. I don’t want anymore dentists to be extorted by attorneys or not helping the disabled patients in their community. Please educate yourself properly, from a web marketing firm who are true accessibility experts and not just telling you what you want to hear, so you don’t leave their company.
If you’d like to see if your website is ADA compliant, I’ve created a special FREE website for every dentist that will show you precisely what actions you need to take to avoid this potentially disastrous situation. Visit www.DentalWebsiteCompliance.com to learn more. OR give us a call and we’ll help in any way possible! Call (512) 628-9509
Stay the line!
Graig Presti is a key note speaker, best selling author, founder and CEO of three-time Inc. 500/5000-recognized company Local Search For Dentists® (LSFD) located in the heart of the tech mecca, Austin Texas. LSFD has officially launched the first American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant website program in all of dentistry. LSFD helps thousands of dentists all over the world gain dominance in their local markets. LSFD’s proprietary marketing systems have helped thousands of dentists achieve more freedom, greater new patient numbers, and the ability to reach their income goals.
DISCLAIMER: This website does not provide legal advice and LSFD is not a law firm.This website and/or blog does not constitute as legal advice. This website and/or blog is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Should you need legal advice about your own situation please seek legal council.