FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 26, 2016
Emalie Gainey (AGO)
Chris Danielsen (NFB)
AG Healey and National Federation of the Blind Announce Agreement to Announce Agreement to Make Health Care Kiosks Accessible to Blind Consumers
Announcement Marks 26th Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act
BOSTON – On the 26th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Attorney General Maura Healey and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) announced a first-of-its-kind agreement with Pursuant Health, Inc. to make its self-service health care kiosks accessible to blind consumers.
The agreement reached with Pursuant Health, an Atlanta-based company that manufactures and operates thousands of self-service health care kiosks in retail stores nationwide, provides meaningful benefits to individuals nationwide who are blind or who have low vision, including 27,000 Massachusetts residents who are legally blind.
“Technology should be used to improve people’s lives, not create barriers,” said AG Healey. “We must take steps to ensure that all Massachusetts residents have equal access to health care services, and that technology is accessible to consumers with disabilities. We are pleased to have worked with the NFB and Pursuant Health to make these kiosks accessible.”
Pursuant Health’s kiosks offer important biometric health screenings, including vision assessments, blood pressure screening, weight and BMI assessments, and pain management advice. Health risks and recommendations for further testing or treatment are displayed on the kiosk or sent to the consumer via email. Until now, however, blind consumers have not been able to use the kiosks effectively.
“Living the lives we want as blind people includes monitoring our own health so that we can take steps to maintain or improve it,” said Mark A. Riccobono, President of the NFB. “Health information has the potential to be more accessible than ever to the blind with twenty-first-century technology, but only if the manufacturers of technology keep accessibility in mind. We are delighted to have reached this agreement with Pursuant Health, working with the outstanding civil rights advocates in Attorney General Healey’s office, and believe that it will result in health information kiosks that set an industry-leading example.”
According to the terms of the agreement, Pursuant Health will implement a detailed project plan to make their kiosks and website accessible to consumers who are blind or visually impaired. The kiosks will be made accessible over time and will be reformatted to provide audio instructions and easily locatable “hot spots” on the kiosk screens to help blind consumers navigate the system. Pursuant Health will also offer membership options to make it easier for blind consumers to activate the kiosks and track their individual health assessments.
Finally, Pursuant Health will make payments totaling $95,000 to the AG’s Office and the NFB, which will be used to further improve access and opportunity for individuals with disabilities.
“Massachusetts Commission for the Blind applauds the efforts of Attorney General Healey for negotiating a settlement that takes one more important step closer to providing equal access to technology and health care,” said MCB Commissioner Paul Saner.
The agreement is the most recent result of collaboration between the AG’s Office and the NFB. Past collaborations have included making Monster.com’s website, Apple’s iTunes services and Cardtronics ATMs fully and equally accessible to blind consumers.
State and federal laws not only prohibit disparate treatment of individuals with disabilities in employment and housing, but also require that all businesses operating places of public accommodation provide people with disabilities with full and equal enjoyment of their goods, services, and facilities.
Continuing her efforts to protect the civil rights of all Massachusetts residents, AG Healey formed a Disability Rights Advisory Committee in July 2015. The Committee is comprised of advocates and experts who meet on a regular basis to consult with and advise AG Healey and her staff on matters pertaining to inclusion, access, and equality for individuals with disabilities. Please click here for more information on AG Healey’s disability rights work since taking office.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Genevieve C. Nadeau, Chief of AG Healey’s Civil Rights Division on behalf of the Commonwealth, and by Daniel F. Goldstein of the Baltimore firm Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP on behalf of the NFB.
###About the National Federation of the Blind
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.