The goal of the Healthcare Toolkit is to provide information for healthcare providers and for individuals with disabilities about accessible healthcare. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals with disabilities should have equal access to health services. This means that medical facilities and equipment need to be physically accessible; reasonable accommodations for hearing, vision, speech, and cognitive disabilities need to be met; and staff should be trained on how to work with people with disabilities.
Individuals with disabilities have barriers to equal access to healthcare from physical access to communications. They:
• Tend to be in poorer health and to use health care at significantly higher rates than people who do not have disabilities;
• Experience a higher prevalence of secondary conditions and use preventive services at lower rates;
• Experience more problems accessing health care than other groups, and these difficulties increase for those with the most significant disabilities and who are in the poorest health; and
• Lack of access to health care has been associated with increased risk for secondary conditions for people with significant disabilities.
People with disabilities experience a variety of barriers when accessing health care, including:
• Stereotypes about disability on the part of healthcare providers;
• Health care provider misinformation, and lack of appropriately trained staff;
• Limited health care facility accessibility and lack of examination equipment that can be used by people with varying disabilities;
• Lack of sign language interpreters;
• Lack of materials in formats that are accessible to people who are blind or have low vision; and
• Lack of individualized accommodations.