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Accessibility and Healthcare: Challenges for Patients and Providers

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One out of every five people in the U.S. – that’s 56 million Americans – has a disability, and those individuals need access to healthcare. But often those disabilities create challenges in accessing healthcare services and technology. In this new blog series we’ll examine some of the most important issues related to accessibility and the health care industry. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we discuss:

Challenges with Healthcare Technology

Although new technology makes many aspects of healthcare easier for patients, that new technology is not always accessible to persons with disabilities. For example, many healthcare providers are switching to digital paperwork and electronic health records. That information, which should be private, is not always accessible to blind or low-vision individuals. In addition, wearable devices that monitor vital statistics can be helpful to persons with disabilities, but only if they are accessible.

Recent Legal Activity in the Industry

As with many industries, healthcare has seen its share of litigation related to digital accessibility. In 2016, the National Federation for the Blind initiated a lawsuit against the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, claiming that the lack of accessible information violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. In addition, many settlements have been reached with major pharmacies, with the pharmacies agreeing to provide talking prescription labels for customers.

Digital Accessibility Regulations for Healthcare

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) prohibits discrimination based on disability and integrates with other anti-discrimination and civil rights legislation. In our blog post, we talk about what is covered under Section 1557, some of the relevant regulations, and some of the technical standards. We also speculate what a possible repeal of the ACA by the Trump administration would mean for digital accessibility.

The Path to Digital Accessibility Compliance

What can healthcare organizations do to make sure they are compliant with digital accessibility standards? We introduce the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 as well as tips for using PDF files and alternative formats such as braille or digital audio files.

Want to Learn More?

Access our free, on-demand webinar:

Accessibility in the Healthcare Industry: Impact, Legal Risk, and the Path to Compliance

SSB CEO Tim Springer and Chief Accessibility Officer Jonathan Avila will be joined by attorney David McDowell of Morrison & Foerster LLP to discuss:

  • What types of healthcare technologies are being targeted with legal actions
  • The results of structured negotiation in the healthcare industry
  • Why accessibility requirements won’t change even if/when the ACA is repealed
  • What it means to be WCAG 2.0 compliant (in non-techy speak)
  • And more!

Read More and Access the Webinar Resources

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