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Grant will help bridge digital divide for people with disabilities
Date:11/7/2011

s electronic medical records become commonplace, it is essential that persons with disabilities have full access to their medical records," said Gavin Kerr, President and CEO of the Inglis Foundation. "Today's systems have not been designed with accessibility in mind. As a result people living with disabilities cannot be fully engaged in their care, and employees with disabilities who work with electronic medical records can no longer be fully effective in their jobs."

For all patients, using computers and other electronic devices to manage their health care includes scheduling appointments, exchanging messages with their physicians or therapists, refilling prescriptions, and viewing lab results. For people with disabilities, more specific needs come into playfor people with visual impairments, getting non-visual information; for people with limited hand mobility, having adaptive technology to access computer keyboard, screens and mice; for those with cognitive impairments, having minimal distractions and perhaps simplified terminology.

In addition, other issues will be identified as project staff members evaluate how people with disabilities use the current systems and define what needs to improve.

After the project's initial assessment of the current EHR situation, the staff will develop guidelines and recommendations for better accessibility. Karavite said that making information systems more useable and accessible for people with disabilities will also benefit broader populations of users. "We can make analogies to curb cuts in sidewalks or ramps in buildings," he said. "These were originally designed for people in wheelchairs, but parents pushing strollers also benefit."

Karavite gave other examples of how improving accessibility has had broader impacts: "Captioning, which WGBH developed in the 1970s for people who are deaf, is used by everyone in noisy airports or waiting rooms. Word prediction, designed in the late 1980
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Contact: John Ascenzi
ascenzi@email.chop.edu
267-426-6055
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Source:Eurekalert

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