FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: HHS Office for Civil Rights
December 21, 2016
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued new guidance to assist providers of healthcare and health coverage in complying with their civil rights responsibilities to ensure that health programs and activities they offer through technology are accessible to all individuals, including individuals with disabilities.
The use of electronic information technology (EIT) in the healthcare sector continues to grow exponentially as more providers integrate computerized systems to streamline operations and communication with patients and consumers. While integrating EIT can improve convenience and reliability of services, new technologies are often designed without regard for the needs of individuals with disabilities. Covered entities should be aware that a failure to ensure that the services provided through EIT are accessible to individuals with disabilities may constitute discrimination under Federal civil rights laws.
Under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, qualified individuals with disabilities may not be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise subjected to discrimination by a covered entity. Furthermore, collectively, these Federal laws prohibit covered entities from giving individuals with disabilities an unequal opportunity or providing an aid, service or benefit that is not as effective as those provided to others.
OCR’s guidance provides clarity on the application of these Federal civil rights laws with respect to websites, healthcare kiosks and electronic health record systems used by covered entities.
To learn more about non-discrimination and health information privacy laws, your civil rights, and privacy rights in health care and human service settings, and to find information on filing a complaint, visit us at www.hhs.gov/ocr.