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Medical schools across the country aren't doing enough to accommodate students with disabilities, according to a new study co-authored by Albany Law School President & Dean Alicia Ouellette.
"U.S. Medical Schools' Compliance With the Americans with Disabilities Act: Findings From a National Study," was recently published by the journal
Academic Medicine. In it, the authors said their findings "illustrate a concerning state of affairs as we celebrate the ADA's 25th anniversary."
Their analysis of 173 medical schools, from 2012 to 2014, showed that:
—Technical standards policies required under the ADA were difficult (42 percent) or impossible (16 percent) to find on the majority of medical school websites. Twelve schools failed to respond to a request for technical standards.
—Of the medical schools with technical standards available, only 33 percent supported accommodating disabilities. Forty-nine percent had unclear policies, 4 percent were unsupportive, and 14 percent provided no information.
—Most schools — 61 percent — did not say who was responsible for providing accommodations. Nine schools, about 6 percent, said it was a joint responsibility, and one school said it was the student's burden.
—Auxiliary aids — motorized scooters, for example — are explicitly permitted by about 40 percent of schools. Less than 10 percent allowed intermediaries like sign language interpreters.
"Prospective medical students with disabilities are not getting accommodations that the law requires. Technical standards should clear, easy to find, and in step with the Americans with Disabilities Act," Dean Ouellette said. "These students deserve fair access."
The study was featured in a
press release from the University of Michigan Health System and a
story by Reuters, which was published by nationally recognized outlets such as Yahoo and Fox News.
Dean Ouellette is the author of the book
Bioethics and Disability: Toward a Disability-Conscious Bioethics, which was translated into Japanese last year. She recently published a book chapter titled "Disability and Human Rights" in the book
Disability and Human Rights, an Interdisciplinary Approach. Her research focuses on health law, disability rights, family law, children's rights, and human reproduction, and she has authored numerous articles published in academic journals such as the
American Journal of Law and Medicine, the
Hastings Center Report, the
American Journal of Bioethics, the
Hastings Law Journal, the
Indiana Law Journal, and
Oregon Law Review.
Dean Ouellette earned an A.B. at Hamilton College and a J.D. from Albany Law School, where she was editor-in-chief of the
Albany Law Review.