According to the report, just 25 percent of the nation’s medical service providers are accessible to people with disabilities to the extent required by the ADA. Wheelchair users, for example, can participate in eye exams in just 20 percent of optometrists’ offices because of structural barriers. Similar problems were reported for x-rays and other examination tables, resulting in people with mobility disabilities not receiving proper services.
People with visual disabilities also find vast discrimination at health care facilities, as just 23 percent of doctors offices and hospitals offered information in large print. This rate was even lower for the information regarding pharmaceutical products.
The report which looked at facilities nationwide and surveyed more than 400 individuals, also found doors, restrooms and other structural necessities lacking disability access at a range of facilities.
“The availability of accessible medical services, medical forms, and prescription drugs plays a uniquely vital role in the lives of people with disabilities,” the report stated. “The Equal Rights Center’s testing investigations and the many experiences of ERC members show that this community is, at best, given second-class treatment.”
The report, however, highlighted some changes in the 2010 Affordable Care Act as steps in improving accessibility, such as the Act’s requirements for medical professionals to receive disability awareness training and for the U.S. Access Board to create criteria for accessible medical diagnostic equipment.
The ADA, passed in 1990, required all medium and large scale providers to make changes to ensure people with disabilities receive equal opportunity to their services, as long as these changes do not represent a fundamental alteration to the business.