More Than Ramps: : A Guide to Improving Health Care Quality and Access for People with Disabilities

More Than Ramps: : A Guide to Improving Health Care Quality and Access for People with Disabilities

More Than Ramps: : A Guide to Improving Health Care Quality and Access for People with Disabilities

More Than Ramps: : A Guide to Improving Health Care Quality and Access for People with Disabilities

Synopsis

"Nearly twenty percent of Americans live today with some disability - a number that will grow as the "baby boomers" age. Despite this, the U. S. health care system is ill equipped to provide optimal, safe, and efficient care to this population. Significant barriers still block people with disabilities from receiving high-quality health care. This book examines these barriers, then proposes solutions to make health care accessible and welcoming to people with disabilities. It focuses on adults who are blind, deaf, hard of hearing, or who have difficulties using their legs, arms, or hands. The book draws upon stories told to the authors by persons with these conditions as well as reviews of national surveys, governmental policies, and current practices."

Excerpt

Many people likely notice Bonnie and me, even if by sidelong glances, when we go out together in public. Bonnie, who was born blind, uses a white cane. I, who have had multiple sclerosis for almost thirty years, roll in my battered but generally trustworthy motorized scooter. Most passersby give us a wide berth. Others—engrossed by private thoughts or wireless phones and oblivious to their surroundings—pose imminent dangers. Bonnie and I must remain constantly vigilant to avoid collisions with those insentient pedestrians hurtling toward us.

When out in the world, persons with disabilities spend much of their time anticipating and circumventing innumerable barriers, animate and inanimate, impeding or endangering their way. For more than thirty years, federal and state statutes have aimed to remove or mitigate the environmental, institutional, and societal barriers that have historically prevented people with disabilities from participating fully in daily life in homes, communities, and workplaces. Important progress has occurred, largely motivated by visionary and tireless disability rights advocates. New technologies, such as Bonnie's computer that reads texts out loud and my power scooter, increasingly compensate for functional impairments.

But numerous challenges persist. Speaking broadly, persons with disabilities are much more likely than others to be poor, uneducated, and unemployed and to live alone. Assistive technologies and other supportive items and services often fall beyond their financial reach. Many communities remain physically inaccessible. Although public and private mass transportation must now accommodate wheelchairs, the lifts on buses frequently malfunction, and drivers sometimes refuse to pick up passengers using wheelchairs. Although legislating physical access is feasible, mandating public attitudes is not. While societal perceptions of some persons with disabilities are now accepting and even welcoming, persistent negative views pose more intractable hurdles. Fully opening communities to people with disabilities still requires considerable work.

Our book concentrates on health care. This might seem counterintuitive. Given its humanistic intent, certainly health care should offer unobstructed . . .

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