How Has COVID-19 Drawn Attention to the Importance of Accessibility?

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown much of the world’s everyday routines into disarray. These seemingly big adjustments are a small price to pay to flatten the curve, with hygiene practices being followed at all times, mandatory mask laws in public areas, and social distancing to keep each other healthy.

While it is simple for able-bodied people to follow these laws, we have overlooked that in order to survive the global health crisis, people with disabilities must be involved in all facets of society. With 61 million adults living with a disability in the United States today, it’s only right that we work to make the world a more accessible place for all, particularly in these times of crisis.

Accessibility on the internet is a key problem for people with disabilities that has been highlighted by the pandemic. Since most of us avoid social events in order to keep ourselves and our families secure, social media and the internet have given us a way to interact with the people we care about while remaining safe. People with disabilities, on the other hand, are not completely excluded from this digital transformation. Many websites do not have usable pages or have not implemented accessibility programs to accommodate people with disabilities and the elderly. As a result, some people with disabilities can feel increasingly isolated and depressed at a time when physical socialization is scarce.

Moreover, during the pandemic, many people with disabilities who need regular medical treatment may find it difficult to find such facilities. Some procedures and treatments required by people with disabilities have been de-prioritized as healthcare institutions struggle to cope with the massive influx of people suffering from COVID. Furthermore, there is yet another significant workforce divide, as burnout and stress caused some healthcare staff to prioritize their own health and safety, resulting in a temporary resignation.

Thankfully, hospitals have begun to expand their telehealth capabilities to support patients who do not have COVID-19 and who need routine medical treatment. However, open telehealth programs for people with disabilities are also required. As previously stated, many portals, applications, and websites are still not digitally accessible, which can prevent vulnerable people from receiving the medical treatment they need.

Telehealth staff are being trained to become more technologically focused so they can reach a larger audience, in addition to making these services more available to people with disabilities. Nurses, after all, are crucial to the telehealth industry. As a result, contemporary nursing professions have begun to incorporate digital technologies in order to deliver treatment in non-traditional environments. These healthcare staff are quickly adjusting to a new environment, whether it’s by informatics specialists or nurse managers. As telehealth becomes more common, nurses will need to learn how to combine human and technical treatment, as well as how to perform tasks like scheduling patients and tracking health remotely. People with disabilities will be able to identify and decide what treatment they need thanks to nurses and other healthcare professionals who are familiar with emerging industry trends and special patient needs.

True enough, the lack of accessibility features on digital platforms is troubling to say the least. This emphasizes the importance of including everyone in digital transformation, as it could be the only way for people with disabilities to survive global crises like the one we’re currently experiencing.