OCR MedStar Hospital Visitor Policy Complaint Resolved

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a resolution that applies to all MedStar Health Inc. (“MedStar Health”) care locations in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, MedStar Health has agreed to end its discriminatory treatment of patients with disabilities, including William King, a 73-year old man with communication-related disabilities, and to modify its policies to ensure patients with disabilities can access the in-person supports needed to communicate and have equal access to medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Statement: MUSIC Reinforces Dangerous Stereotypes, Practices

WASHINGTON, D.C. – CommunicationFIRST, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), and the Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint (AASR) today condemned the Golden Globe-nominated movie MUSIC, directed by singer-songwriter Sia Furler. The film, released widely via video on-demand services today, contains a number of deeply disturbing and potentially harmful scenes.

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Communication Equity Call to Action

CommunicationFIRST and the 47 undersigned supporters of communication rights, access, and equity urge the incoming Biden-Harris Administration to take immediate and specific steps to safeguard and advance the human and civil rights of people with disabilities, especially individuals who have little to no understandable speech and rely on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).

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CommunicationFIRST Petitions FCC to Add Text and Video Options for Suicide Lifeline

On October 16, 2020, CommunicationFIRST joined with the National Association of the Deaf other communication rights organizations to formally petition the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to include text and direct video calling options to allow people with speech and hearing disabilities to access a federally mandated three-digit National Suicide Lifeline that will launch in 2022.

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CommunicationFIRST Joins Complaint Against MedStar for Violating Communication Rights of DC Patient

Yesterday, CommunicationFIRST joined Disability Rights DC and other disability rights groups in filing a complaint against MedStar, a private hospital in the District of Columbia, for violating the communication rights of a patient for failing to provide him the in-person supports he requires to communicate with health care personnel and to provide informed consent.

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Coalition Urges Virginia Governor to Prevent Discrimination Against Patients with Disabilities

RICHMOND, Va. — On Friday, July 17, 2020, CommunicationFIRST joined a coalition of state and national disability groups sent a letter to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam urging him to ensure Virginia hospitals and other health care facilities comply with federal civil rights law and recent guidance from the Office for Civil Rights at the US Department of Health and Human Services to ensure patients with communication and other disability-related support needs are able to access the in-person supports they need while receiving medical treatment.

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Significant Victory for Patients with Disabilities in Response to Joint CommunicationFIRST Complaint on Hospital No-Visitor Policies

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Today, in response to the first federal complaint challenging discriminatory hospital “no-visitor” policies, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced a resolution agreement making clear that federal law requires hospitals and the state agencies overseeing them to modify policies to ensure patients with disabilities can safely access the in-person supports needed to benefit from medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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National COVID-19 Policy Must Ensure Communication Access

CommunicationFIRST today joins eight other national organizations that that work with and advocate for Limited English Proficient (LEP) populations, deaf and hard-of-hearing communities, blind persons, and people who cannot rely on speech to be heard and understood, in a letter to Congress urging it to ensure the federal response to…

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Is Your Hospital Visitor Policy Discriminatory?

We have received multiple calls from around the country about overly restrictive hospital “no-visitor” policies. These policies often allow visitors for patients without disabilities, including infants, children, women giving birth, and those at the end of life, but prevent access to the support people necessary for patients with disabilities.

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CommunicationFIRST Files First Challenge to Hospital Visitor Policies (UPDATED)

Earlier today, CommunicationFIRST, together with Disability Rights Connecticut, the Center for Public Representation, and the Arc of the United States filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (HHS OCR) regarding the failure to provide people with disabilities reasonable accommodations to hospital no-visitor policies in effect during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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COVID-19 Communication Rights Toolkit

CommunicationFIRST has prepared a COVID-19 Communication Rights Toolkit, recognizing that our population—people who face significant barriers being understood with speech and accessing effective communication supports in the best of times—is likely to face even greater barriers to accessing our necessary communication supports if we are hospitalized due to a coronavirus infection.

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