Digital accessibility

The Necessity of Digital Accessibility in the Pandemic Era

It is certainly an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic changed everyday life and business for many people around the world. One shift that businesses and all types of organizations had to make quickly—or perhaps might still need to complete—is ensuring that their online platforms and digital assets are easy to use, simple to navigate, and work reliably.

This shift has highlighted the need for digital accessibility. People with hearing loss need particular accommodations to assist them, and that includes when using websites. Now, both during the pandemic and post-pandemic, it is even more important than ever before to consider those with disabilities or different abilities. In the pandemic era we live in, digital accessibility is essential.

During the pandemic, it became obvious to everyone how frustrating it is when digital assets do not work properly. In the height of widespread lockdowns, problems like websites or apps that did not work properly could mean the difference between being able to order meals, submit grocery orders, complete your work or schoolwork, keep in touch with friends and family, and much more. While many people became more aware of these problems during the pandemic, these issues have been problematic for those with disabilities for a much longer time.

Ensuring that online content is accessible means making sure that all people can read and understand the content—while taking into account any disabilities, different abilities, or assistive technologies they may have. These disabilities may include impaired vision, impaired hearing or deafness, motor difficulties, learning disabilities, or cognitive impairments.

People with disabilities who may have formerly relied more heavily on in-person interactions (in stores and banks, for example), now find themselves forced to navigate an online world that is not always designed with their different abilities in mind. Companies and organizations must take steps to ensure that all online content is accessible. A few simple steps toward accessibility include:

  • Ensuring websites and emails are properly displayed and easily navigable on a mobile device
  • Making certain that websites and emails can be easily navigated with a keyboard only
  • Creating PDF documents that can be read by screen readers
  • Avoiding text with poor color contrast

During and post-pandemic, these shifts toward accessibility can make a big difference for all people with disabilities. Making sure that online content can be consumed and understood by all people also complies with accessibility laws.

While email was a commonly used form of communication before the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become increasingly popular—even vital—to companies during the pandemic as they have been unable to rely on physical interaction. Many companies used email to convey their business continuity plans and health safety standards to consumers during the pandemic. However, a recent study found that among financial services firms, only 25 percent were testing accessibility in their software development process. This leaves room for incredible improvement in this sector when it comes to accessibility. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital content and communication, and it continues to showcase the need for accessibility. To learn more about how you can ensure that your digital content and online services are accessible, we encourage you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus.

Boost in Online Hearing Services

New Study Foresees a Boost in Online Hearing Services

As the world continues to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, it is becoming increasingly clear that some things will simply never be the same again. Other things may return to what was previously considered normal, but it will take time. Social distancing of six feet is being enforced in stores, restaurants, offices, and other public places, and certain businesses are requiring temperature checks before admitting entrance as well.
While this means you may be able to return to your favorite restaurant soon (with new restrictions and guidelines in place), what does it mean for your hearing practice? Will everything go back to “normal”?
According to a survey conducted in April 2020, your practice may not go back to normal—but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The survey was conducted in Spain, with 782 persons from the Spanish audiology industry taking part. It was carried out during the height of the lockdown in Spain, from April 20-24, 2020.
First, the survey revealed that most practices had taken a big hit to their business due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown restrictions. In hearing aid sales, 77 percent of practices claimed they saw a 100 percent reduction in turnover from device fittings. 52 percent reported a similar loss of business in accessory sales, and 45 percent said they had registered zero income from repairs during the time in question.
Because of the reduction in sales and income, many practices reported they had had to take measures in regards to their staff. 76 percent said they had taken measures that affected employees, and 40 percent planned on a reduction in their overall business budget. 26 percent reported that they expected to spend in order to announce the reopening of their practices.
However, the survey reported more than only the business losses suffered by these Spanish audiology practices. Almost half of the participants said they believed an upturn in sales would come in the fall, around September or October. 20 percent of respondents, on the other hand, believed they would have to wait until 2021 to see an increase.
As for returning to “normal” practices, 61 percent of participants reported that they expect their sales revenue to continue coming through traditional channels. In other words, they expect that they will continue to make income through in-office visits and in-person appointments. 34 percent of respondents, however, foresaw a “mixed model” of business, with both online and offline services.
Many hearing practices have adopted a service model that is focused more on online services since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes virtual appointments, at which the hearing specialist and the patient meet online. As seen by the respondents to the survey in Spain, it is not expected that online services will cease once lockdown restrictions are lifted. Some patients may choose to continue virtual appointments, especially if they have health concerns and would prefer not to go to public spaces.
Because of this continuing shift to a mixture of online and offline services, it is essential that you are prepared to accommodate your clients, no matter how they prefer to meet with you. Telehealth services like myVirtualClinic are ready to help you easily make the shift to online hearing healthcare.
To learn more about the importance of offering online services at this time and how you can better meet the needs of your clients, we welcome you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus. We are eager to help you grow your business.

Social media 2020

What You Need to Know About Social Media in 2020

Social media is not new, nor is its importance in the business world. If your practice has an online presence, you likely have social media pages created for your practice as well, such as a Facebook page. In 2020, however, there is much more you can do for your business using social media than simply having a Facebook page.
This year, there are many new features and formats to watch for on social media. These features may be able to help your practice reach more people in new ways. Here are some of the top social media trends and features to be aware of in 2020 that could impact your practice:

  • Facebook
    • Groups

Groups are now more important than ever. In early 2019, Facebook even announced that they intended to make Groups a central focus on the platform. Facebook Groups are a way for you to build a community around your practice and engage with your patients and potential patients.

  • Messenger Ads

Although Messenger Ads first launched in 2016, the product has undergone many upgrades and changes in recent years that make it a powerful tool in 2020. Messenger allows you to deliver ads in a way that is more likely to drive engagement.

  • Instant Experience Ads

Instant Experience ads are full-screen takeover ads that load instantly and are mobile-optimized. This format ensures that you capture the full attention of the viewer.

  • Dynamic Ads

Dynamic Ads are Facebook’s machine-learning ad unit. This ad format delivers a personalized experience to each person who views it, based on the type of ads they are most likely to respond to.

  • Instagram
    • Story Ads

Another format that is not new in 2020, Story Ads first launched on Instagram over two years ago. Story ads perform very well, with Instagram reporting that 500 million accounts use Stories. Due to the success of this format, Instagram recently announced they were experimenting with increasing ad load on the platform.

  • Shoppable Posts

This feature enables users to make purchases from their feed or Story content without leaving the app.

  • IGTV

IGTV is a hub for creating and watching long-form content. Unlike Stories, IGTV videos do not disappear after 24 hours. This format allows you to create content for your followers that they can watch at a later time and engage with your audience.

  • Twitter
    • Hide Replies

Twitter users can now hide replies to tweets, giving you more control over the conversation. This can help your practice by allowing you to weed out any spam replies.

  • Greater Video Focus

In the last year, video ad formats were the fastest-growing ad format on Twitter. Video content is becoming a more and more important and integrated part of the platform.

  • Snapchat
    • Dynamic Ads

One of the benefits of Dynamic Ads is that it reduces the amount of time and effort required to create and maintain product ads on Snapchat. Snapchat is particularly appealing to a younger demographic, so this is the ideal place to reach younger potential patients.

  • YouTube
    • 15-Second Non-Skippable Ads

In 2019, YouTube made 15-second non-skippable ads available to all advertisers. This enables you to place 15-second ads that the user will not able to skip.

  • Intelligent Ad Tools

YouTube’s intelligent ad tools include a range of machine-learning powered tools that make it easier and more accessible to create ads for the platform.

  • Pinterest
    • Catalogs

Pinterest’s new Catalogs are a way to showcase products on the platform. You can upload multiple product images, organize the products by category, and turn the images into dynamic Product Pins.
With so much to watch for in 2020, it is certain to be an exciting year in social media. To learn more about how you can utilize social media to grow your practice this year, we invite you to contact us at AudiologyPlus today.