Disability and Health Journal Critically Examines Americans with Disabilities Act 20 Years after Enactment

Progress made but challenges still facing people with disabilities

New York, NY, 6 October, 2010 – In recognition of the 20th anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the October issue of Disability and Health Journal has brought together a series of articles to examine whether the ADA has in fact improved the health of people with disabilities. Areas of progress are identified, most notably acknowledging physical barriers and need for better staff training and communication about and with people with disabilities. However, there continue to be ongoing challenges, including recurrent barriers to health care for people with disabilities, discrimination in health care decisions against people with disabilities, limited health insurance coverage, and, in general, poorer health care, and health for people with disabilities.

“When the ADA was enacted 20 years ago, we had not fully identified that there were differences in health and health care for people with disabilities,” commented Margaret A. Turk, M.D., Co-Editor, Disability and Health Journal and Professor, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Pediatrics SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY. "Research since 1990 has identified that there are differences, and has tried to clarify which of these differences in the health status of people with disabilities can be attributed to health care access, universal design principles, care provider knowledge, or social justice. We continue to actively pursue these areas of research to address and hopefully further resolve these issues."

The issue describes how the ADA can be and has been used to promote the health of people with disabilities.

Contents & Key Points
Editorial: Has the ADA Improved the Health of People with Disabilities?

Margaret A. Turk, M.D.

Yes, somewhat. The contributors hope that the articles in this issue will prove useful in making changes within facilities, institutions, staff, and social interactions, as well as provide a first step to improving access at all levels to promote the health of people with disabilities.

Timothy P. Shriver, Ph.D.
This dedication to Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a longstanding advocate for improving environmental, program, and social access for people with disability, is contributed by her son, Dr. Timothy Shriver.

This article has been made freely available as a service to the health care community at: http://www.disabilityandhealthjnl.com/article/S1936-6574(10)00046-4/fulltext

The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Improve the Health and Wellness of Persons with Disabilities: Historical Review, Rationale, and Implications 5 Years after Publication

Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S., Margaret Giannini, M.D., F.A.A.P., Brian Bergmark, B.A., and Jennifer Cabe, M.A.

The authors provide a history of early legislation leading to the ADA, and then a further forward history from the ADA to the 2005 Call to Action. Dr. Richard Carmona, U.S. Surgeon General in 2005, developed this Call to Action to further the understanding that disability does not equate with poor health.

Health Care under the ADA: A Vision or a Mirage?
Nancy R. Mudrick, M.S.W., Ph.D., and Michael A. Schwartz, J.D., Ph.D.
Drs. Mudrick and Schwartz focus on the past 10 years of ADA enforcement related to health, and highlight the many barriers the deaf community encounters. The settlements associated with these and other health access issues show the effectiveness of the ADA, but also the enforcement choices of the Department of Justice.

This article has been made freely available as a service to the health care community at: http://www.disabilityandhealthjnl.com/article/PIIS1936657410000610/fulltext

The California Kaiser Permanente Health System: Evolving to Meet the Needs of People with Disabilities
M. Elizabeth Sandel, M.D., Jed Appelman, Ph.D., Mary Jean Kotch, M.S.N., C.R.R.N.-A., Gina Biter-Mundt, M.A., Nitasha Lal, M.P.H., Shari Samuels, B.A., and Yvette Crespo"
The Kaiser Permanente Health System’s response to an ADA lawsuit and settlement has resulted in a model approach to providing health care to people with disabilities by recognizing barriers at all levels. Their leadership in this area has been recognized nationally and internationally, along with their willingness to share developed products and practices.

The ADA in Action at Health Care Facilities
Molly F. Story, Ph.D., June I. Kailes, M.S.W., and Christie Mac Donald, M.P.P.
This survey of medical centers and staff covers compliance with the ADA, conducted through their consulting work to advise medical centers in decreasing barriers for people with disabilities receiving health care. They provide guidance and recommendations for equipment, interior design, and staff training and policies

Achieving Accessible Health Care for People with Disabilities: Why the ADA Is Only Part of the Solution
Silvia Yee, L.L.B., B.Mu.S., M.A., and Mary Lou Breslin, B.A., M.A.
The authors outline the limitations of the ADA regarding improvements in health care for people with disabilities. They posit that lawsuits and other judicial policy tools have only a narrow focus to create change, and that changes in the social view of disability and public policy are needed to renovate the health care system for people with disabilities.

In the introduction to this issue Timothy P. Shriver, Ph.D., Chairman & CEO of Special Olympics, writes about the vision and legacy of his mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and applauds the editors and contributors to the issue. He states, “No act of care is too small to matter; no moment of healing too small to go unnoticed. Your dedication to fulfilling the ideals of the ADA for all Americans is the fuel that keeps us all going. Your contributions to this volume are a resounding reminder that there are still heroes among us.”

These articles are published in Disability and Health Journal, The Official Journal of the American Association on Health and Disability, Volume 3, Issue 4 (October 2010) entitled “ADA 20th Anniversary: Update on Health Care Services for People with Disabilities,” published by Elsevier.

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Full text is available to journalists upon request. Contact Pat Hogan, Elsevier, at 212-633-3928 or p.hogan@elseiver.com to request specific articles or schedule an author interview.

About Disability and Health Journal
Disability and Health Journal: The Official Journal of the American Association on Health and Disability (http://www.disabilityandhealthjnl.com/), is a scientific, scholarly and multidisciplinary journal for reporting original contributions that advance knowledge in disability and health. Such contributions include reports of empirical research on the characteristics of persons with disabilities, environments, health outcomes, and determinants of health; systematic reviews and tightly conceived theoretical interpretations of research literatures; and evaluative research on new interventions, technologies, and programs. The focus is on public health, health promotion, health education, wellness and prevention, reducing the incidence of secondary conditions and medical conditions.

About The American Association on Health And Disability (www.aahd.us)
The mission of the American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD) is to advance health promotion and wellness initiatives for people with disabilities at the federal, state and local level; reduce the incidence of secondary conditions in people with disabilities; and reduce health disparities between people with disabilities and the general population. AAHD achieves its mission through research, education, public awareness, and advocacy.

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Research Intelligence and ClinicalKey— and publishes over 2,500 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and more than 35,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works. Elsevier is part of RELX Group, a world-leading provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries. www.elsevier.com

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