In January of 2022, the KATS Network was awarded a grant offered to Tech Act programs nationwide to help ensure that people with disabilities had appropriate access to public health services. The grant was prescribed by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and designed to improve upon the public health system’s COVID-19 response and ensure it was ready for the next major health emergency. In Kentucky, we chose to use these funds to work with health care providers at all levels, be they at a big university health system, a local free clinic, or even a social service organization that helps to keep their community up to date on these kind of events. KATS has retained a Public Health Information Accessibility Consultant who can help to make health communication materials accessible to all. This website will serve as the hub and feature materials created in-house as well as links to quality reference materials, tools, and training resources available elsewhere.
In such a vital industry as protecting the public health, it is vital to make sure that information is distributed as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is especially true in the case of a worldwide pandemic like COVID-19. At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone is able to access and absorb materials in the same way. Our disability community can become disenfranchised in these types of events. Those with hearing or visual impairments might not be able to get the full effect of a press conference or newspaper story. There are also many people with other, less obvious limitations that could include being illiterate, having dyslexia, or even not having access to a reliable source of accurate health information.
Making information accessible for persons with disabilities is not just good practice; it’s also the law in many jurisdictions. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that federal agencies, private entities that receive public funding, and independent software vendors make their Information and Communication Technology (ICT) accessible.
US Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Community Living
Grant No 2201KYATPH-00
Award Date: January 12, 2022
Project period: 01/01/2022-09/30/24