For many Americans living with disability, the pandemic created living situations that were worse than they had been before. With the pandemic now winding down, Harvard Health Publishing has asserted that disabled life is not getting any easier. On the contrary, it could be getting worse. The measures put in place to assist people with getting their life back on track post-COVID have, arguably, been exclusionary of people with disabilities. Even putting that aside, various factors have gone in to making the quality of life for Americans with disabilities worse – starting with access to justice in medical matters.
While many people living with a disability have their condition due to natural or life causes, there are many conditions that are down to incidences of medical malpractice or negligence. Cerebral palsy (CP) is one such condition, and CP claims are often an important part of the process of those diagnosed being able to come to terms with their condition and, additionally, receive proper support. The pandemic brought with it new rules to assist doctors against the potential for spurious medical negligence cases, amid huge pressures on the healthcare system and a glut of new treatments. USA Today asserts that discipline against bad doctors has plummeted as a result, with justice at an all-time low. As hospitals are once again eased away from busy periods, these protections must be reassessed to allow those diagnosed with disability to receive support and access care.
For people with a disability, accessing care can also be difficult. As American Progress highlights, care access was already tough pre-COVID. Since the pandemic, it has got much harder, and many millions of Americans living with a disability – especially those with mental health concerns – are now put at further risk. Finding ways to open the healthcare system back up to the wider population, and getting people with a disability into the clinics and services they require, must be a priority for healthcare planners around the country. As more services move onto digital means that can, by their nature, be exclusionary, having a safe destination and definitive service is essential.
The new digital world
More and more services are moving online in order to keep business flowing despite the pandemic. Unfortunately, accessible design has not been at the forefront of those designing these services. According to Next Web, 98% of major websites do not meet the basic accessibility guidelines set out by legislation and various internet standards. While this does open them up to liability, many courts are reticent to give favorable judgments in light of the past 18 months. Once again, businesses must do much more to ensure that their websites are fully accessible. As essential services move into the digital sphere, leaving anyone behind could create huge risks.
For Americans with disabilities, the pandemic was a disaster. What has come after isn’t much better. Change must be made, and quickly, to ensure that an entire section of society isn’t left behind.