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Accessible Medical Healthcare

Accessible Medical Healthcare

It has now been 30 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and nearly 50 years since the passage of the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, both, in their respective time, landmark civil rights legislation for persons with disabilities – one promising full inclusion into every aspect of society for persons with disabilities, and the other prohibiting disability-based discrimination by those receiving federal financial assistance. While significant progress has been made to integrate persons with disabilities into every aspect of society, there is one segment where persons with disabilities still struggle for acceptance and inclusion, and that struggle puts their health and well-being at risk.

Despite the decades-long existence of federal nondiscrimination mandates, persons with disabilities, in general, and persons with paralysis and mobility disabilities, specifically, confront accessibility barriers daily at hospitals, doctors’ offices, dental clinics, eye care clinics, behavioral health facilities and at other facilities where medical, dental, eye care, mental health and other health related services are provided. Barriers in the form of inaccessible examination rooms, insufficient space inside examination rooms for a person with a mobility device to independently maneuver without causing injury to themselves or damage to their mobility device, the absence of lift and transfer equipment, the absence of wheelchair accessible weight scales, and the absence of height adjustable examination tables and accessible diagnostic equipment.

Persons with disabilities utilize the healthcare system for disease management versus disease prevention, its intended purpose. That is explained in part by the fact that people with disabilities tend to avoid places that are not welcoming. And thus, medical attention and dental care is only sought when absolutely needed.

Earlier this year, the Foundation worked with an outside expert to publish a six-part paper on accessible healthcare, which covers a wide array of issues from the history of disability rights to ways healthcare providers can be more accessible, and even tactics for self-advocacy.

Section Title
Introduction & Table of Contents
1 What is Accessible Healthcare?
2 History of Disability Statutes
3 History of Disability Rights Regulations and Standards
4 How Healthcare Providers Can Achieve Accessible Healthcare
5 Self-Advocacy Tools and Resources
6 COVID-19 Lessons Learned and Moving Forward