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Making a Difference with 508 Accessibility

Gary Iverson | 508 Accessibility Senior Manager | March 13, 2018

Healthcare professionals can make a difference

This month, let’s focus on the ability component of 508 accessibility. It easily describes a clear goal: the ability to make a difference in a person’s life. In short, providing everyone the ability to read, understand and reference health coverage details and member communications.

How can you make a difference as a healthcare plan?

Establish a 508 accessibility strategy that is supported and promoted from the top down, designing your websites and documents to present information in a non-discriminatory manner that provides equal access to people with disabilities.

Accessibility perspective:

We sometimes take things for granted – seeing, hearing, walking – without knowing what it feels like for someone who does not have that same ability. A person may grow up not knowing what they are missing until they have a chance to see and understand what everyone else has – you simply don’t know what you don’t know.

It can be an every-day, common occurrence that gives you perspective, like it did for my son’s friend, whose story I will share below.

How can accessibility deliver unseen benefits?

When my son was in 2nd grade, his teacher gave the class an assignment for St. Patrick’s Day that included a lucky saying and a drawing of a leprechaun that the kids needed to color. The class had fun completing the assignment, and my son’s best friend had the most unusual outcome – a bright pink leprechaun. That is when they discovered he was colorblind.

Now, more than ten years later, technology has changed and his parents purchased EnChroma glasses for his 18th birthday, which allowed him to see color for the first time.

He put on the glasses and immediately noticed that the trees were different.  He exclaimed, “Wow, that is what green looks like? The leaves are different colors!” He didn’t realize that a pine tree and an oak tree were different colors. Looking at his mother’s shirt, he asked, “Mom, is that pink - your favorite color?” Until then, he had only seen reds and greens as gray and had no idea there were such distinct color differences.

He took in as much as possible before his brain was over-stimulated and he broke down crying. His reaction was so pure and honest, there wasn’t a dry eye around.

How does this relate to healthcare documents?

Perhaps you’re wondering why I chose to share a personal story on a professional blog. The reason is because this memory is a real-life example that demonstrates that the tools we provide for others make a difference.

An estimated 8 percent of men and a half-percent of women across the United States are affected by color blindness. Red/Green and Blue/Purple combinations are some of the most difficult colors to detect – an important fact to keep in mind as you design websites and promotional materials.

Equal access levels the playing field by making the same information available, regardless of a person’s disabilities – including everyday tasks.

As you shape your future for digital transformation, be aware of how you use color combinations to visually lay out different sections in a document or to direct steps of a process.

What was my son’s friend’s lucky saying?  “May the luck of the Irish keep you happy.”

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