Accessible Healthcare Documents and Why They MatterPublished on
The medical and healthcare industry requires a lot of paperwork to operate. Much of that paperwork is, at least in part, completed by the patient. This protects their privacy and ensures their information is correct. This is true even when the patient has a visual disability or impairment.
In fact, federal law dictates that all patient forms, documents and communications be available in accessible formats for patients with blindness and visual disabilities.
Increased accessibility improves patient experience
Our founder shared his recent experience navigating a fairly major healthcare experience—heart surgery—as a person with blindness. What he found is all too common in hospitals and healthcare facilities across America: no accessible documents for him, a staff that was unclear on how best to accommodate and care for a blind patient, and an organization that was unwilling to grant him his autonomy and independence.
Read Braille Works’ founder Lou Fioritto’s blog, I Can Sign My Own Name! Our CEO’s Frustrations With Healthcare’s Lack of Accessibility
This can, and should be, an unfortunate anomaly. Hospitals, clinics, insurance companies and many other healthcare providers of all kinds can help make communication easier for patients with blindness or visual disabilities. It starts with an accessibility strategy that puts the patient’s dignity and independence first.
- Make all patient communications available in braille, large print, audio, and accessible PDF.
- Train staff on how to greet, assist, and communicate with patients with blindness or visual disabilities.
- Remember that the patient should have the final say when it comes to their needs.
Healthcare documents and accessibility guidelines
Accessibility isn’t just a patient experience issue. Hospitals and healthcare organizations must follow the guidelines set forth in Section 508 of the American Disabilities Act and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA. What kinds of documents need to be accessible?
- Evidence of Coverage (EOC)
- Annual Notice of Change (ANOC)
- Summary of benefits
- Provider directories
- Pharmacy directories
- Statements and billing
- All patient forms, including Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), authorization, consent and admissions
Section 508 specifically relates to online communications. Learn more about Section 508 in our recent blog, 508 Compliance: Who Needs to be Compliant?
Accessibility Promotes Inclusion
When your organization provide accessible healthcare documents you empower your patients with visual disabilities to take control of their experience and retain their independence. You also demonstrate to all your patients that every one of them matters.
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