The Northwest ADA Center serves Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.
Healthcare Access: Research, Communities of Practice, and Checklists
Healthcare access for individuals with disabilities is a national priority in the effort to eliminate health disparities. As part of the 2016-2021 grant cycle, the Northwest ADA Center is conducting a five-year research project to identify existing evidence of healthcare access and the ADA, explore barriers experienced by individuals with disabilities in accessing healthcare in the Northwest Region, and identify effective approaches in ADA implementation to reduce these barriers.
In 2017, the Northwest ADA Center initiated a five-year study implemented in three phases with the following three aims:
- To characterize the existing evidence on healthcare access in the context of Titles II and III of the ADA,
- To understand the access barriers to healthcare experienced by people with disabilities in the Northwestern United States, and
- To identify strategic approaches to remove these barriers primarily by increasing ADA compliance.
Results indicated that many of these individuals experienced physical, programmatic, and communication barriers to healthcare. Individuals had difficulties entering and/or moving around in healthcare facilities; had difficulties with or were unable to use medical diagnostic equipment, exam tables, or exam chairs in their healthcare appointments; and had difficulties with or did not receive interpreter services. These results support the need for further investigation into the physical, programmatic, and communication barriers to healthcare access for individuals with disabilities with a focus on individuals with disabilities who experience social and health disparities resulting from multiple factors.
The Northwest ADA Center has begun establishing a facilitated community of practice in each state for ADA Coordinators, healthcare professionals, advocates, and people with disabilities who have a role in ensuring equal access to healthcare for people with disabilities. The focus is to begin developing methods for engaging, connecting, and developing training tools to be used in the healthcare industry. The Northwest ADA Center has engaged with the Learning Collaborative to Address Disability Equity in Healthcare (LEADERs) project - a sustainable learning collaborative of disability access coordinators, patients with disabilities and their caregivers, and researchers whose work aims to ensure equitable care to patients with disabilities.
The Center has been creating individualized Accessibility Checklists for Medical Clinics and Facilities in each of the regional states. These checklists incorporate the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design, as well as state-specific code requirements.
Additionally, the Center collaborates with the Pacific ADA Center, the Southeast ADA Center, and the Rocky Mountain ADA Center as part of the Accessible Healthcare Committee with the ADA National Network to support outreach to stakeholders and training through the Pacific ADA Center’s Accessible Healthcare Webinar Series.
Partnerships with Aging and Disability Service Organizations
Many aging “baby-boomers” are beginning to experience age-onset disabilities. It’s critical that this growing population, and the people who serve them, understand the rights afforded to older adults who experience disabilities and functional limitations when accessing their communities. The Northwest ADA Center is building partnerships with organizations that provide services to older adults in an effort to provide ADA technical assistance and knowledge. Such partnerships include the Community Living Connections Network (the Washington chapter of Aging and Disability Resource Centers) and the Northwest Alliance of Information and Referrals Systems. Additionally, the Center has partnered with the Northeast ADA Center and the Great Lakes ADA Center to coordinate an Aging Committee with the ADA National Network. Activities include, building partnerships and presenting at conferences, such as the Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) and the National Council on Aging (NCOA).
Partnership with Washington State Department of Corrections
The Northwest ADA Center provides ongoing technical assistance and consultation to the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) via phone and in-person meetings. The DOC appointed a Center staff member to be part of the Washington State DOC ADA Steering Committee to review any related ADA issues, progress, and improvement projects. Additional details and highlights on this collaboration can be found in this Regional Success Story.
On another project, the Northwest ADA Center and the Center for Technology and Disability Studies at the University of Washington are collaborating with Washington State DOC on a five-year, NIDILRR-sponsored project focusing on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and correctional facilities. The aim is to increase the awareness and knowledge about TBI by front line staff; improve interactions between front line staff and offenders with TBI; and improve interactions between community corrections officers and offenders with TBI during transition to community settings. To date, this partnership has produced three fact sheets:
Accessibility Checklist for Correctional Facilities
Title II and Title III ADA Revised Regulations for Detention and Correctional Facilities
Effective Communication in Corrections, Jails, and Detention Facilities
The Northwest ADA Center has worked closely with the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington, to improve accessibility and inclusion. This has included a phased ADA site assessment project, as well as serving on an advisory committee to develop the “Zoo for All” program. Center staff have also been involved in trainings, consultations, and ADA site assessments to improve access to performing arts, specifically with the Seattle Theater Group and the Edmonds Center for the Arts.
Housed in the Center’s parent organization, Accessible Design and Innovative Inclusion (ADII) is a relatively new program that allies with the Center’s services. ADII staff and Center staff have teamed on numerous activities including training zoo employees on disability language and etiquette, teaching museum staff how to create high color contrast exhibits and materials, explaining ADA Title II requirements of city parks and recreation programs, providing public awareness at crisis intervention conferences, and conducting facility accessibility surveys.