Healthcare technology has advanced in recent decades and, with it, comes challenges for patients with disabilities. As the parent of an adult child with autism, I’m on a never ending quest to assist him into the transition of independent living and have had to, on more than one occasion, address issues of technology barriers in his healthcare.
If you have a child with a disability, here are some points to keep in mind when finding a healthcare team that is going to work with your child well into adulthood – and how to encourage and ensure they are compliant with laws established by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Legal Accessibility Requirements
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act requires that medical professionals, with public websites, create a site that is accessible by individuals with disabilities. For my son’s therapist, this was a challenge as the site had an MP3 audio player, with music, that was aggravating his hearing sensory integration disorders. If you are working to assist your adult child with independent living, it is important to be sure the health providers are, indeed, complying with the ADA requirements in this regard. When not in compliance, this may impede your child’s ability to contact the healthcare provider via internet services.
Digital Health Tools
Another area of concern, in terms of health website access, involves the ability to use the health tools provided by his health providers. Again, because my son has a hearing sensory integration issue, health tools on the various websites must be free of sound that may disturb his auditory response. So, beyond contacting the healthcare provider, be sure to also address the use of digital health tools and be sure that your own adult child, living with disability, can use these tools. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines provide the standards these providers must adhere to.
While not all healthcare providers are advanced in their technology use, my son’s therapist does use a tablet to allow my son to take psychological and neurological tests as part of his treatment plan. As long as these in-office tablets use no strange sound technology, the process seems to progress well. If, however, the sound is turned on, then we run into some complications. So, be prepared for in-office technology and teach your adult child how to maneuver these tech advances – asking for assistance from clinic staff. If a healthcare provider opts to use in-office technology for testing or assessment, it must still be compliant with The Americans with Disabilities Act as well as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Healthcare services are only one aspect of teaching an adult child, with a disability, how to transition into more independent living. When working with a healthcare team, be sure you put together a network of providers that will comply with ADA requirements and, when not in compliance, they are open to suggestions on correcting the issues of concern. Teaching our children to speak up for themselves is crucial to their independent living and to ensuring they get the best healthcare treatment when we are not around to assist.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines – ADA
Americans with Disabilities Act – Accessability Guidelines
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