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Are You Excluding Access to Healthcare To Some Segments of the Population?

By October 8, 2020January 18th, 2021ACCESSIBILITY NEWS
blind man meeting with a doctor

Not all healthcare facilities consider the fact that access to important healthcare documents and consent forms may not be in a readable format for patients who are blind or who have low vision, and they may not be comprehendible to patients with cognitive disabilities. Taking steps to ensure greater accessibility for all individuals is especially important in the healthcare industry and even more so during the current national public health emergency.

The law requires that health care facilities give people with vision disabilities access to the same information as sighted individuals so that people who are blind or who have low vision receive care as effectively and efficiently as other patients. This requirement applies to healthcare providers including hospitals, private doctors’ offices, health clinics, diagnostic centers, physical therapy centers, psychological and psychiatric service providers and nursing homes. It applies whether the health care facility is privately owned or administered by a state or local government.

Are You Providing Access Within Healthcare to Patients who are Blind or who Have Low Vision?

There are many healthcare forms that when provided in standard print leave the person who is blind or who has low vision unable to read the text. Without the ability to read this information, people with visual disabilities face significant difficulty in understanding healthcare procedures, following instructions prior to or after surgery and signing required consent forms.

A person who is blind or who has low vision may not receive the same level of care as sighted individuals or may be denied care completely. Healthcare providers must furnish alternative documents in accessible formats and in a way that protects the privacy and independence of the individual. Unfortunately, basic patient intake forms are rarely provided in alternate formats and help that may be offered is provided verbally in the lobby or waiting room. Many individuals who are blind report feeling discriminated against as they are left to communicate confidential information out loud in a busy location.

Are You Ensuring Healthcare Access to All of Your Patients and Plan Members?

The awareness and willingness of healthcare organizations to ensure accessibility to medical documents, forms and critical health information has a direct impact on the quality of care available to patients who have disabilities. Often health and medical information and education are not readily available in an accessible format for people who are blind or who have low vision.

The following is a list of common medical documents that are not always available in an alternative format for patients who have low vision or who are blind:

  • Medical exams, lab and test results and medical records
  • Information about health benefits and eligibility
  • Patient security, privacy and billing notices
  • Instructions for the management of chronic conditions
  • Diagnosis information and treatment plan details
  • Prescription medication instructions and dosage
  • Physical therapy instructions

The Number of Patients With Low Vision is Growing Rapidly

Baby boomers are getting old fast, which means the number of people with low vision is increasing all the time. As this generation ages, their need for more frequent visits to the doctor office also increases. Health insurance forms, medical forms, hospital and doctor bills and other health-related documents will become more difficult for them to read as they age. Currently, there are 60 million Americans over the age of 65. By 2050 nearly 90 million Americans will be over the age of 65; that’s 1/5 of the total population.

Boomers also represent the major concentration of the wealth and disposable income in the country. As individuals age more of those dollars go toward healthcare: maintaining wellness, age-related health issues, more frequent doctor visits and more frequent illnesses to treat. Persons with disabilities, their family and friends, will opt to take their business to organizations that provide accessibility and take their business away from facilities that have a lack of disability awareness.

T-Base Specializes in Providing Access to Healthcare Information Across Your Healthcare Enterprise

Each segment within healthcare: hospitals, doctors, pharmacists, psychologists or insurance payers have a responsibility to ensure accessibility for all patients through the materials they provide. 75% of the individuals who are blind or who have low vision, along with their family, are apt to take their business away from companies that do not provide visual accessibility. T-Base makes it easy to create accessible healthcare forms in accessible PDF formats, e-Text, braille, reflowed large print and website accessibility. Contact T-Base today to find out how.

Jan Smith Reed

Jan Smith Reed

Director US Healthcare at T-Base Communications Inc.