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Advocates say more work needed to aid disabled

Posted July 26, 2010

— Twenty years after the Americans with Disabilities Act became law, access for disabled people has become part of everyday life, from parking spots to bathrooms to elevators.

"The Americans with Disabilities Act opened the doors to the community for people with disabilities," Vicki Smith, executive director of advocacy group Disability Rights North Carolina, said Monday.

Although significant strides have been made, Smith said, more work needs to be done. The promise of the ADA hasn't reached some groups, such as the mentally ill and people who are deaf, particularly in the area of health care, she said.

Deaf often fall through cracks of ADA Deaf often fall through cracks of ADA

Daniel Johnson, who lost his hearing when he was 8, said the ADA calls for physicians to provide a sign-language interpreter for him when he has a medical appointment, but that rarely happens. Most doctors, including one he saw last year, prefer communicating with him through handwritten notes, he said.

"The doctor was very short and curt in his writing back and forth. He really didn't have time to explain what my problem was," Johnson said. "Doctors are not providing accessible communication."

Because of a lack of detailed communication, he said, he was misdiagnosed. Several months later, he found out through a written note from another doctor that he had a cancerous tumor.

"Imagine all the misdiagnoses that have happened (through the years) because a qualified interpreter has not been provided," he said.


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  • almagayle50 Jul 27, 2010

    If he were autistic, he wouldn't be seen at all. He would be given psychiatric drugs to mask his symptoms and sent home with the recommendation that he be institutionalized.

  • mamabearprotectinghercub Jul 26, 2010

    I hope they can get all the help they can. People that are disabled don't get the help they need & they have to do things on there own & it makes them worse or sicker, that is some. There aren't to many people that love taking the time to help people that have disabilities.
    Daniel Johnson, I am so sorry that he had to go through what he is going through. Being a doctor is hard, but the ones that are disabled it is harder for them. I hope he can get the right diagnosis & get help that he needs. It is hard having something wrong & you don't know what it is, then you have to go through lots of different doctors. And Communication is very important when it comes to the medical field. I will be praying for him to get his answers & help. Being disabled is hard but never let it get you down. Hold your head up.