Improving Digital Accessibility helps all patients

It is estimated that 1 in 5 people have a long-term impairment or disability in the UK.

That is 20% of the population who may struggle with things that we take for granted in everyday life.

Much of the discussion around accessibility is rightly focused on relieving disadvantages that people with a long-term impairment or disability face. However, improving accessibility helps everyone. 

In a conversation between iatro founder Thomas Porteus and Hayley Levene on the What The HealthTech?! podcast, Thomas used the example of the beeping at pedestrian crossings. The beeping is primarily designed to help people with vision impairments know when to cross the road, but everyone benefits from the audio cue. We all certainly notice when it is absent because we don’t always notice the light has turned green right away. 

Website Accessibility Requirements

In 2018, the UK government introduced website accessibility regulations for organisations and businesses in the public sector. This new legislation requires public sector healthcare businesses to ensure their websites and mobile apps are accessible to people with motor difficulties, impaired vision, impaired hearing or deafness, and the neurodiverse. This legislation has been in effect since 2021, and primary care practices risk fines if they do not comply with the accessibility requirements. 

One of the main problems many are facing is that they do not know what they need to change in order to make their website more accessible. Installing ramps at the entrance of a GP practice is an obvious accessibility fix, but some of the things that make your website inaccessible are less apparent. 

3 Tips For Making Your Primary Care Practice Website More Accessible 

The best way to make sure your website is accessible for patients and compliant is to talk to your current website developer or talk to us about how we can improve accessibility. Here are some things that you can look at to see how accessible your website is. 

Text Inside Images 

Infographics are great for conveying information in a simple and visually appealing way, but they hamper accessibility. People with vision impairments often use text-to-speech readers that will read aloud the website text but cannot read the text embedded in images. You can use alt text and captions to describe short amounts of text in images, but it is not suitable for images with a lot of text. 


PDFs have been really popular as a way to provide a resource that can be printed, downloaded, and shared. They are great for creating leaflets, but they are not very accessible. PDFs were designed as an export option, similar to printing a file, and by their nature, accessibility features cannot separate the elements of a PDF. The PDF becomes one big image, essentially. 

PDFs also cause accessibility challenges for mobile users. Instead of finding the information on your website, the mobile user will have to download a file that doesn’t adjust well to the smaller screen size. They will have to zoom in so close that they are scrolling across and down. It creates a frustrating experience to read the document and a frustrating experience to try and navigate back to your website because they are now in a completely different app. The size of the file may create a barrier for someone who has an older or cheaper phone with low storage. 

Instead of PDF forms, use embedded forms or Google Docs to allow patients to fill out the information and submit it easily. These work with text-to-speech readers and are designed to adjust for the screen size. Once the user has filled out the form, they can use their back button to navigate to the previous page and keep navigating your website. 

Simplify Navigation 

Make it easy for your patients to find the information they need. It will help people with cognitive impairments and neurodiversity most, but people without impairments will appreciate simplification too.

There is often a lot of information on a GP clinic’s website, so streamline it and make it easy for patients to navigate. Your website navigation should be intuitive and allow people to find the information they need or book the service they need in seconds. 

If you’d like to explore how we can help you manage and control digital patient demand with our affordable, hassle-free and modern solution, get in touch with our team.

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