Answered Questions: Monthly News for the Disability Community for July 2021 on Accessible Healthcare

Answered Questions is a monthly resource for the Spanish language Disability Community that fills an information need. This month’s question is I am a family doctor, and I would like to make sure my office and my practice fully accessible to people with disabilities, whether they are patients or caregivers. Where can I learn more about accessible healthcare? This edition of Answered Questions includes items that discuss the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the healthcare industry; a primary care provider’s guide; streamlining accommodations through well-coordinated electronic health records; medical accessibility and the ADA; healthcare providers and the ADA; effective communication and accessibility; and more. More about Answered Questions.

From the NARIC Collection:

The ADA and the healthcare industry (in English), a legal brief from the NIDILRR-funded Great Lakes ADA Regional Center (in English), reviews how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and similar civil rights laws have been used to advance the rights of people with disabilities in their pursuit of equal access to health care. The brief reviews how Titles II and III of the ADA apply to patients and companions with disabilities and provides an overview of important topics, including non-discrimination, service animals, effective communication, accessible medical equipment, and more.

Primary care providers have a responsibility to provide equal and accessible care to all patients, with and without disabilities, and to remediate any obstacles to care. The article, A primary care provider’s guide to social justice, the right to care, and the barriers to access after spinal cord injury (in English), identifies the barriers to primary care experienced by people with spinal cord injury (SCI) as social justice issues and human rights violations to emphasize their significance and the inequality of primary care received by people with SCI. This article helps medical practitioners understand the well-documented barriers of competence, physical and procedural barriers, communication, and attitudes that impact the primary care for people with SCI.

Research In Focus:

People with disabilities may face a variety of challenges to accessing healthcare. The article, Well-Coordinated Electronic Health Records May Help Streamline Accommodations for Patients with Disabilities, discusses a recent NIDILRR-funded study where researchers affiliated with the NIDILRR-funded Pacific ADA Regional Center (in English) asked staff at a primary care center to describe their experiences processing disability accommodation requests in the electronic health records (EHR). The researchers noted that EHRs may serve as useful tools for coordinating disability accommodations in healthcare settings. However, restructuring the HER so that all staff have ready access to the same information may help to close communication gaps and optimize the process of securing accommodations. This article is available in English.

Accessibility and the ADA:

The NIDILRR-funded ADA National Network (in English) has published a factsheet, Accessible Health Care, [CJ1] that discusses how the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act require that healthcare providers provide complete and equitable access to healthcare services and facilities. The factsheet helps healthcare providers make sure that their facilities have accessibility features, such as exam rooms and medical equipment that are accessible to people who use mobility devices and effective communication for people with auditory, visual, and cognitive disabilities. This factsheet is also available in English.

The NIDILRR-funded Northeast ADA Regional Center has an article, The ADA and Healthcare Providers, presents the basic requirements of the ADA for healthcare providers. The article speaks about providing access to the building in question and its offerings, the use of service animals, any changes that may be necessary, and much more. The article is also available in English.

Effective Communication:

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (in English) has published a factsheet, Guaranteeing Effective Communication and Accessibility for People with Disabilities, that defines Section 1557 as the civil rights provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 and how it prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health care programs and activities. The factsheet describes the protection offered people with disabilities by Section 1557 of the ACA, including how medical professionals, hospitals, and other medical facilities funded by HHS or not can guarantee that their offices and facilities provide effective communication and accessibility to their patients with disabilities.

Research on Barriers to Healthcare:

Accessibility to health services is an issue that is framed within public health, specifically in the quality of care and services for people with disabilities who may face physical and financial barriers in accessing healthcare. The article, Access to health services for people with disabilities from the perspective of users in the specialized fiscal mission unit “Our Lady of Carmen” in Los Rios – Urdaneta – Ricaurte, discusses a study at the Catholic Pontifical University in Ecuador that analyzed the perspectives of people who attend the specialized unit, their relatives, health personnel, and teaching staff of the barriers they perceive that people with disabilities face when trying to obtain healthcare. The researchers found that the main barriers to accessible healthcare include a lack of economic resources, long distances to specialty care, a lack of specialists in different medical areas, inaccessible transportation, inadequate health education, and more.


  • The Administration for Community Living (in English) published an issue brief on the development of accessibility standards for medical diagnostic equipment. The standards provide design criteria for examination tables and chairs, weight scales, radiological and mammography equipment, and much more. These standards were developed through extensive research funded by NIDILRR (in English).
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a webpage, Inclusion Strategies, which provides information on strategies that organizations, businesses, and service providers can use to make sure that they are including people with disabilities. The webpage includes information and strategies that healthcare providers can use to make sure they are providing accessible healthcare, such as universal design, accessibility, reasonable accommodations, and more. This webpage is also available in English.
  • The American Spinal Injury Association (in English) has created a guide, The Primary Care Physician’s Guide to Patient Accessibility After a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), that discusses the three general themes that may limit a primary care physician from providing good quality care for people with SCI: physical barriers; attitudes, knowledge, and experience; and systematic barriers. The guide discusses ways that a primary care physician may remove these barriers from their practice, including reaching out to community associations that may help their patients with transportation, resources that improve the communication skills and knowledge of the treatment team, and easily accessible practical tools that address gaps in their knowledge. The article also encourages primary care physicians and other medical professionals to recognize community resources and develop collaboration with these resources to help reduce systematic barriers.

Further Research:




About Answered Questions Each month, we look through the searches on our blog and through the information requests made by our patrons who speak Spanish and pick a topic that fills the largest need. Each resource mentioned above is associated with this month’s information need. We search the various Spanish language news sources and feeds throughout the month to bring you these articles. With the exception of the NIDILRR Projects, From the NARIC Collection, and Further Investigation, all the linked articles and resources are in Spanish – any that are in English will be clearly marked.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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