Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund Releases Healthcare Stories

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National disability rights organization’s video stories are dispatches from people with disabilities who report from the frontlines of healthcare, highlighting the need for best practices in ACA implementation.

The Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) announces release of a new video series, Healthcare Stories, as part of its ongoing campaign for healthcare justice for people with disabilities, many of whom will only benefit fully from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) if its promise of improved accessibility and provider disability awareness is fulfilled. These stories, dispatches from the frontlines of the healthcare industry, describe how disability stereotypes and inaccessible environments continue to undercut the quality and length of life for millions of Americans living with a disability. Healthcare Stories are presented as downloadable short videos for advocates, educators, healthcare practitioners, and policy makers. http://dredf.org/healthcare-stories

Healthcare Stories features people with diverse disabilities:

Larry Voss is a wheelchair user who faced disability stereotypes upon learning that he had cancer. He recalls, “So the first surgeon I saw recommended a procedure called a hemipelvectomy, which involves removing part of my pelvis and my entire leg. He expressed his opinion that he didn't see why that would make a big deal to me, since I wasn't walking anyway…”

Mary Delgado, also a wheelchair user, remarks that because no accessible weight scale is available where she receives healthcare, “I've not been weighed…for 20 years.” Yet weight measurement is considered a basic healthcare metric and is critical, for example, in providing care to people with diabetes. Recent research shows that only about 3 percent of primary care doctor’s offices have accessible weight scales and about 8 percent have accessible exam tables.

When they were expecting their first child, Nick Ziemer, who is deaf, requested a Sign Language interpreter so he could communicate with his wife and the instructor during a birthing class. He was told, “No, we cannot provide an interpreter for that class,” a decision that could have divided a family during one of its most cherished events.    

These stories reflect how the health of millions of Americans is compromised because of preventable barriers and providers’ outdated attitudes. An estimated 14 percent of people living in the United States experience limitations or impairments that might require accommodations such as accessible exam tables or weight scales, Sign Language interpreters, or print materials in accessible formats such as Braille or large print in order to receive effective healthcare. It its report, The Future of Disability in America, the Institute of Medicine drew scathing attention to these and other barriers to care for people with disabilities.

According to Mary Lou Breslin, DREDF’s Senior Policy Advisor, “Obstacles to care are still commonplace. Unfortunately, people with disabilities encounter them every day and they can have life and death consequences. It’s long past time to shine a bright light on the impact of these barriers on our health and wellbeing and to call on policy makers, healthcare educators, and practitioners to take action.”

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Since 1979, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, a national law and policy center, has advanced the civil and human rights of people with disabilities through legal advocacy, training, education, and public policy and legislative development. Over the past decade, DREDF has been tackling the pervasive and well-documented barriers that prevent people with disabilities from getting equitable healthcare. Visit us at http://www.dredf.org

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Mary Lou Breslin, Senior Policy Analyst

Ingrid Tischer, Director of Development
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