Online Course Helps Healthcare Providers Improve Access for People with Disabilities

Ten percent of adults with disabilities in Kansas ran into barriers to health care access, according to the 2009 Kansas Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Among that group, 14% said the restriction involved physical access, 6% cited disability-specific communication barriers, and 27% reported having been treated unfairly due to their disability.

To help reduce these disparities, Kansas Disability and Health Program Coordinator Jamie Lloyd Simpson collaborated with Marsha Saxton, Ph.D., professor of disability studies at the University of California, Amanda Reichard, Ph.D., Research Director, Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas, and Susan Havercamp, Ph.D., Director of Health Promotion and Healthcare Parity at Ohio State University. They designed an online continuing education course for nurses, physicians, and other healthcare providers and staff. The online course helps providers deliver culturally sensitive, high-quality care to adults and children with physical and sensory disabilities and find solutions to any problems that emerge in serving patients with disabilities.

Dr. Saxton’s/ World institute on Disability’s Treating Adults with Physical Disabilities: Access and Communication video is the centerpiece of the program. The course is based on a PowerPoint by Dr. Havercamp.

The course provides or addresses the following:

• An explanation of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) model, which is the basis for the way we talk about disability

• A comparison of the medical and social models

• People-first language, including the Your Words, Our Image poster developed by the RTC/IL at the University of Kansas

• A discussion of the Surgeon General’s Call for Action to Improve the Health of People with Disabilities, 2005

• Dr. Amanda Reichard’s Quality of Care Medicaid research

• Information about “People with disabilities CAN work,” using Kansas Medicaid Buy-in program information

• Transition issues for children and youth with disabilities

• Health disparities between people with and without disabilities

• Messages that, despite health disparities, people with disabilities CAN be physically active (using the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD) as a source of further information for practitioners)

• Information about secondary conditions and examples of how practitioners can help prevent them

• Information about the higher risk of sexual abuse for people with disabilities

By the end of the course, participants will:

• Better understand health, wellness and care issues involved in treating patients with physical and sensory disabilities

• Recognize the four barriers to quality health care, as addressed in the Americans with Disabilities Act

• Identify a minimum of five skills to improve communication and problem solving, thereby enhancing quality care for people with disabilities

The course is open to all U.S. healthcare providers. It started February 1, 2011, and will continue through December 31, 2011. For more information, go to: . To set up a learner account and enroll, go to