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The Future of Disability in America
eas, another priority is the identification of better strategies to develop and bring to market improved assistive technologies and accessible mainstream technologies.
Increase the visibility and coordination of federally supported disabilityresearch.
Disability research continues to lack adequate visibility and recognition within federal research agencies. This report reiterates the call for actions to address this problem made in the 1997 report. Among other steps, it proposes that the U.S. Congress consider making NCMRR a full institute or freestanding center within the National Institutes of Health. A similar step would be the creation of an Office of Disability and Health in the director’s office at CDC to work with and support the Disability and Health Team in the Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities and to more fully integrate disability issues into CDC programs.
Inadequate coordination of disability research, highlighted in the 1997 IOM report, also remains a problem. With tighter federal budgets, the advantages of coordination—to avoid an insufficient emphasis on important issues as well as wasteful duplication—are even more important today than they were in 1997. The report recommends a more active role for the existing Interagency Committee on Disability Research in coordinating the identification and administration of high-priority, multiagency research.
ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE AND SUPPORT SERVICES
Improve the accessibility of health care facilities and strengthen implementation of the provisions of the ADA related to health care facilities.
Accessible environments are a matter of equity for adults and children with disabilities. People with mobility, sensory, or other impairments should expect that health care facilities will be accessible. Instead, these facilities often present significant barriers to the receipt of timely, high-quality health care.
Both public and private groups can act to improve access to health care facilities and equipment and strengthen the levels of awareness of and compliance with the relevant provisions of the ADA. The U.S. Department of Justice should continue to vigorously pursue and publicize effective settlements and, if necessary, the litigation of complaints of accessibility violations by major health care institutions. It should also issue and widely disseminate guidelines for health care professionals and executives that describe the government’s expectations for compliance with the ADA. Likewise, the Joint Commission and other organizations that accredit health