Opinion: People With Disabilities Deserve Better Health Care. We All Do.

BY TARA LAGU: For Complete Post, Click Here…

IWAS A RESIDENT working in an underresourced health clinic when, one afternoon, my triage paper indicated that my next patient needed a Pap smear. I walked into the room and found a woman sitting in a wheelchair.

Although I smiled and tried help her feel welcome, I felt nothing but panic.

During medical school, I had not been trained to care for people with disabilities. Now a resident, I didn’t even know to ask whether the clinic had access to a height-adjustable exam table. What I did know was that, because of my lack of experience and prior training, there was no chance I could perform a Pap smear for this person today. I apologized for the inconvenience and arranged an appointment for the patient at a women’s hospital on a different day and with a different doctor.

When I became a researcher, this experience, and others like it, led me to explore the disparities in care that patients with disabilities face. Through those studies, I have come to strongly believe that these disparities aren’t just a problem for patients who need sign language interpreters or accessible tables – they’re simply some of the most egregious cases of what all patients face in the United States health care system.

In 2013, my research team and I called a random sample of doctors from four U.S. cities, each time posing as a doctor making an appointment for a patient who used a wheelchair. Of the subspecialists we called, 20 percent said they could not accommodate such a patient. Some lacked adequate training or staff or equipment; a few said that their building was simply inaccessible, even though access to health care settings is a requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA.

More recently, we conducted focus groups with physicians to better understand the barriers that exist to caring for people with disabilities. Physicians in our recent study spoke with surprising candor, revealing in some cases profound biases toward people with disabilities. Undark reported on that study in November, which described doctors who reported using excuses in order to avoid treating people with disabilities. Some told prospective patients their caseload was full, or that they didn’t accept their insurance. Others were more straightforward, and simply told patients, “I am not the doctor for you.”

The attitudes and behaviors expressed by doctors in our recent study are inexcusable, unethical, and possibly illegal under the ADA. They also highlight why many patients with disabilities struggle to find doctors who will care for them, and suggest an urgent need to address disparities in health care access and quality.

But these dramatic examples not only provide a window into the U.S. health care system’s failures towards people with disabilities — they also reveal just how broken the system is for all patients.

Resources for Conservatorship and Guardianship Abuse Awareness Day

From NCLER: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Resources:

HEALTHCARE: ‘Smart’ Walking Stick Helps Visually Impaired Grocery Shop

By Alex McFarland: For Complete Post, Click Here…

A team of engineers at the University of Colorado Boulder are using artificial intelligence (AI) to develop a ‘smart’ walking stick for the blind or visually impaired.

The research was published in IEEE.

According to the team, the smart walking stick could eventually help blind people navigate various tasks, such as shopping at the grocery store or finding a place to sit.

Shivendra Agrawal is a doctoral student in the Department of Computer Science.

“I really enjoy grocery shopping and spend a significant amount of time in the store,” Agrawal said. “A lot of people can’t do that, however, and it can be really restrictive. We think this is a solvable problem.”

The walking stick resembles a cane, but it is a bit different. For one, it has a camera and uses computer vision technology, helping it map and catalog its environment. It can then guide users by using vibrations in the handle and with spoken directions.

The team says the device isn’t a substitute for making places more accessible, but the prototype can help millions of individuals become more independent.

“AI and computer vision are improving, and people are using them to build self-driving cars and similar inventions,” Agrawal said. “But these technologies also have the potential to improve quality of life for many people.”

Savings Accounts for Disabled People Are Opened to More of Them

By Ann Carrns: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Only those who became disabled by age 26 have been eligible for ABLE accounts. But Congress raised the age to 46, so more military veterans and others can qualify as of 2026.

Disabled Americans recently scored a victory when Congress approved an expansion of state-based accounts that let them work and save money without risking the loss of public benefits like Medicaid.

The change means an estimated six million more people, including about one million military veterans, will eventually qualify for the tax-favored accounts, advocates for disabled people say. The accounts, known as ABLE accounts, are named after the 2014 law that created them, the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act.

Forty-six states and Washington, D.C., offer ABLE accounts, which first became available in 2016 and are loosely modeled on 529 college savings accounts. But saving in ABLE accounts has been somewhat slow to catch on, partly because they have been limited to people who became disabled before the age of 26.

Now, the ABLE Age Adjustment Act, included in the omnibus spending bill passed in December, has raised the threshold for the onset of a qualifying disability to age 46. That means people can be eligible if their disability occurred after their mid-20s, in a car accident, say, or from a neurological disease they developed, like multiple sclerosis. It may also help people dealing with the lingering effects of Covid-19, said Thomas Foley, executive director of the National Disability Institute.

The accounts let people with disabilities save and invest for current expenses and future needs, including housing, education, transportation and legal costs, without the funds disqualifying them from need-based federal help like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income. In general, a disabled person can’t have more than $2,000 in savings or other assets to qualify for those programs. But money in an ABLE account doesn’t count toward that total.

“It’s a safe place to save money,” Mr. Foley said.

The age expansion was crucial for the ABLE program overall, supporters say. A 2019 report from the National Association of State Treasurers warned that participation was too low to maintain affordable fees for ABLE accounts and sustain the programs over the long term. The association’s charitable arm, the NAST Foundation, has started several initiatives to promote awareness of the accounts.

Youth lead anti-corruption talks on disability

From EDYN: For Complete Post, Click Here…

The 1st episode of the Youth Lead Anti-corruption Talks series named “Inclusion and leadership of youth with disabilities to contribute to the achievement of SDG16″ took place virtually, on December the 9th 2022, and was dedicated to the Human Rights Week and the International Day of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities celebrated on December the 3rd. These talks are being organized by the Youth Lead Board of the UNODC’s GRACE initiative. Each of these talks is dedicated to a certain UN observance day and thus focuses on a given topic. For instance, the first edition was focused on disability inclusion and was prepared by Esma Gumberidze and Sylvain Obedi from the Youth Lead Board.

‘God of War: Ragnarök’ Wins Big In Accessibility

By Frankie Negron: For Complete Post, Click Here…

The Game Awards have recognized accommodations in the gaming industry since 2020 and on Thursday night that award went to “God of War: Ragnarök.”

The Innovation in Accessibility Award was developed to honor games that ensure as many people as possible can play. This means adding in as many accessibility options to address any kind of need that could come up. The selection panel for this award is made up solely of disabled gamers.

Four other games were considered: “The Last of Us: Part 1,” “Return to Monkey Island,” “The Quarry” and “As Dusk Falls.”

“Ragnarök” had a groundbreaking list of features, more than 70 options designed to suit whatever need a player encountered. This ranged from color-coding subtitles so players would know who was saying what line, changing the size of text and color-coding enemies and allies when it came to combat. The features weren’t solely designed for visual needs, but a variety of needs.

Santa Monica Studio sought consultation from disabled gamers and advocates in order to focus on what would really help to make it accessible, not just adding subtitles and giving options to change game brightness.

Mila Pavlin, a team leader at the studio, had spoken to BBC News and explained that “it was the biggest thing that we looked out for at the beginning of the process of making the game – how to make it more accessible to more people” and pointed out to how “there were many gamers who wanted to play in 2018 but were unable to because of things like low vision, motor issues and cognitive or hearing disabilities.”

Celebrating Ed Roberts Day With A Special Message From WID Co-Founder, Judy Heumann

Bu Judy Heumann: For Complete Post, Click Here…

My name is Judy Heumann, and I’m a proud co-founder of the World Institute on Disability (WID). It’s hard to believe that WID is 40 years old. As I think about WID’s future, I harken back to the early days when so many activists were pushing for broader representation of disabled people. At the time, there
were no public policy think tanks for disabled people. Ed Roberts, Joan Leon, and I wanted to change that and thus WID was born.

It is fitting that on Ed’s birthday today, we also celebrate WID’s founding and 40th anniversary, for they are forever linked in a global movement for the rights, opportunities, equity, and justice for all people with disabilities.

Ed is known by many as the “Father of the Independent Living Movement” and I’m often called the “Mother of the Independent Living Movement.” Together, we were instrumental in advancing Centers for Independent Living across the United States. We were able to influence and develop policy at federal, state, and local levels with a mission to achieve the full inclusion of people with disabilities throughout all facets of our society.

As we look at the next 40 years of WID and beyond, I believe we can all carry with us Ed’s fighting spirit that enabled him to make an ever-lasting change, in our community and the entire world. Ed is an example of the power of one, but he is also an example of what community engagement looks like.

A Deaf Student Says His School District Failed Him. The Supreme Court Will Decide

By Mark Walsh: For Complete Post, Click Here…

When the U.S. Supreme Court takes up his special education and disability discrimination case on Wednesday, Miguel Luna Perez will in the courtroom. Perez, now 27, is deaf, and he will be aided in trying to understand the complex legal arguments by both a certified deaf interpreter and an American Sign Language translator.

“My case at the U.S. Supreme Court is hard for me to understand,” Luna Perez said in a statement released by his lawyers. “Part of it is about having no interpreter at Sturgis [Public Schools]. Part of it is that some judges said I can’t tell my story in court.”

The young deaf immigrant’s statement hints at a personal narrative of dashed dreams allegedly caused largely by the failures of a Michigan school district to ensure that he was being provided the educational assistance he needed to learn to communicate.

5 ways to maintain fitness in winter if you have a disability

By Georgina Moore: For Complete Post, Click Here…

With a new year comes new goals and keeping fit is often one of them. Maintaining fitness is important for your health and wellbeing, but can come with challenges if you’re disabled, especially during the colder months. That’s why boccia player, Georgina Moore, has put together 5 ways to maintain your fitness in winter if you have a disability.

As a boccia athlete, I must keep as fit as I can all year round, which can be difficult during the colder and darker months. The motivation to go out to exercise is lacking and this is even more apparent now the cost of living is so high and Covid cases are rising once again. 

Living with a severe physical disability my whole life has meant I have had to adapt my fitness regime to my capabilities. I am still feeling levels of Covid anxiety at the thought of going to the gym or swimming. I can also no longer afford the membership for these activities. 

I am sure many of you are in the same position as me, so here are my top tips for maintaining your fitness levels at home. Please remember to seek advice from a professional to ensure these exercises are suitable for you.

1. Resistance bands

and much more…

It took decades: Now there’s a photo for each name on Vietnam wall

By Anna Mulrine Grobe: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Volunteers have now tracked down at least one photo for every one of the more than 58,000 U.S. military service members who died in the Vietnam War – for an online Wall of Faces project that took more than two decades to complete.

The goal was to help a new generation of Americans grapple with sacrifice and inspire them to reflect, perhaps, on “why we have a wall” with names inscribed on it, say organizers from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), the nonprofit that spearheaded the digital project as well as the national monument on which all these names are engraved.

More than half of the visitors to the memorial in Washington, D.C., today weren’t alive when it was commissioned in 1982, they add.