Designing Your Firm's Website for Accessibility

As a Social Security disability attorney, you know that you must put the needs of your clients first to be successful, develop lasting relationships, and win cases. This could mean that you make home visits to meet with them or spend extra time going through paperwork to ensure that they understand what they are signing. However, you can let prospective clients know that you are willing to accommodate their needs before even meeting them by designing your website for accessibility. Here are some ways to cater to the users of your site by taking their needs into consideration:

Make Your Site Senior-Friendly

Use Large Font: According to the Social Security Administration, the average age of those receiving disability benefits in 2015 was 53.9*. You should design your site so that older claimants find it easy to use. Eyesight begins to diminish around the age of 40, so this means that you should be using a large font size – at least 16px is recommended – on your website.

Make Text and Links Easy to Find: Text size should be easily adjustable in the event that it is still too small for some to read. Social Security applicants visiting your site that experience memory loss would benefit from clear navigational cues. Hyperlinks should stand out and change color once they have been clicked so that users can easily see which pages they have already visited.

Easy Forms Are Ideal: According to research performed by the Nielsen Norman Group, seniors are much more likely to give up on a task online as compared to younger users*. Therefore, any “Contact Our Firm” forms should be easy to complete with clear explanations of the information that each field is requiring. Most importantly, if the claimant makes any mistakes filling out the form or misses a required field, error messages should be as detailed as possible so that he or she knows exactly how to fix the mistake.

Ensure Accessibility for All Users

Allow Your Firm’s Content to Be “Read” By Everyone: Your site should be accessible for users with all types of disabilities, including those who may experience hearing or vision loss, as nearly 10% of SSDI recipients have either hearing or vision loss. Any audio or video should be closed-captioned and you should have contact information other than just a phone number available. Your site should also be compatible with screen readers, which read text aloud. Therefore, your headers should be clear as to differentiate sections of text and all images should have an alt-tag, which is the text that will be read aloud by the screen reader. The alt-tag should be descriptive so that even if a user cannot see the image, he or she will know exactly what it shows. Legal blindness automatically qualifies for disability benefits, so you want to ensure you don’t let these “perfect” cases slip through the cracks.

Some Claimants May Not Be Able to Type: According to the SSA, 36.3% of those who were awarded benefits in 2015 had diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue*. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that some claimants may only be able to use a keyboard to navigate your site. Make sure that you can use the “Tab” key to access different pages on your site, as well as the search bar. Also, avoid information that only appears when hovered over by a mouse, as those navigating your website using a keyboard will be unable to trigger this action.

Contact Information Needs to Be Easy to Find: Finally, make sure that all information is clear and easy to find, especially your firm’s contact information. Can you imagine losing a Social Security disability client because he or she was unable to find your contact information on your website? It is important to think about how each of your clients uses the internet, as it is likely that many have a widely different user experience than you do. For this reason, you should design a website that will give each and every disability claimant a positive, informational, and smooth online experience. In doing so, you can show both current and prospective clients that you understand their needs and are willing to do everything you can to take these into consideration in all aspects of your role as their attorney or advocate.

The hardest part of making sure your website is user-friendly and easily accessible for Social Security disability applicants? It’s expensive. You can skip the costs of hiring a web developer by choosing to purchase Social Security disability leads. eGeneration has been a leader in the Social Security lead space for over eight years. To supplement your current Social Security caseload, give us a call today at 617.800.0089.

*https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/chartbooks/fast_facts/2016/fast_facts16.html *https://www.nngroup.com/articles/usability-for-senior-citizens/ *https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2015/sect03.html