About

The Barrier Free Healthcare Initiative (TBFHI)

The Barrier Free Healthcare Initiative (TBFHI) is spearheaded by advocates, non-profit organizations, legal service providers, and lawyers whose goal is to eliminate the physical and programmatic barriers that people with disabilities face in obtaining healthcare. Please read our list of some of the common barriers faced by people with disabilities. TBFHI aims to develop and support legal advocacy and policy initiatives designed to eliminate these barriers in hospitals and other settings where medical care is provided.  On this site you can also read about legal advocacy efforts as well as policy initiatives.

The Barrier Free Healthcare Initiative hopes to serve as a resource and a catalyst for others engaged in disability advocacy related to accessible healthcare. Across the United States, beginning with President Obama, there is a growing recognition that our country’s healthcare system is broken. While the nation works to fix its healthcare system, accessible facilities, programs, services and information must be seen as critical components of a just and equitable solution.

 

The Barrier Free Healthcare Initiative Members:

The Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL), is a frontline civil rights organization led by people with disabilities that advocates to eliminate discrimination, isolation and segregation by providing advocacy, information and referral, peer support, skills training, and PCA services in order to enhance the independence of people with disabilities. BCIL has provided services to people with disabilities since 1974, when it became the second independent living center in the country. The organization was created by people with disabilities seeking full integration into society. BCIL accomplishes its mission by empowering people with disabilities with the practical skills and self-confidence to take control over their lives and become active members of the communities in which they live. At the same time, BCIL works to promote access and change within society and responds with programs and services to the needs of people of all ages with a wide range of disabilities.

Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), is a non-profit law firm dedicated to securing the civil rights of people with disabilities. DRA advocates for disability rights through high-impact litigation, as well as research and education. DRA’s national advocacy work includes high-impact class action litigation on behalf of people with all types of disabilities, including mobility, hearing, vision, learning and psychological disabilities. Through negotiation and litigation, DRA has made thousands of facilities throughout the country accessible and has enforced access rights for millions of people with disabilities in many key areas of life, including access to technology, education, employment, transportation and healthcare.

Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), is a leading national civil rights law and policy center founded and directed by people with disabilities and parents who have children with disabilities. DREDF advances the civil and human rights of people with disabilities through legal advocacy, training, education, and public policy and legislative development. The organization works to improve access to healthcare for people with disabilities through research, legislative and policy development, consultation with health plans and health policy organizations, advocacy, and client representation.

Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen & Dardarian (GDBBD), is a plaintiffs’ public interest class action law firm located in Oakland, California. The firm represents individuals and organizations in litigation against and negotiations with large companies and governmental entities across the country. The firm specializes in complex, class and collective action lawsuits in the firm’s three primary practice areas: disability access, employment discrimination, and wage and hour violations. The firm has been involved in negotiating comprehensive agreements to remove barriers to hospital facilities and services for persons with mobility and sensory disabilities who visit the Sutter Health hospital chain in Northern California, and the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. The firm also represents national organizations for persons with visual impairments in efforts to make medical information available in alternative formats, including Braille, Large Print, electronic and audio formats.

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) is New England’s largest legal services organization. GBLS provides free civil (non-criminal) legal assistance to low-income people in Boston and thirty-one additional cities and towns ranging from legal advice to full case representation, depending on client need. GBLS has negotiated comprehensive settlement agreements with Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital designed to improve access to healthcare for persons with disabilities.

Law Office of Lainey Feingold represents persons with disabilities and disability advocacy organizations across the country. Along with co-counsel, she has developed “Structured Negotiations,” an alternative to litigation emphasizing collaboration and focusing on solution. Using this method, she has negotiated 35 settlement agreements with some of the largest institutions in the United States, including American Express, Bank of America, Wal-Mart, and Wells Fargo Bank. The majority of these agreements address information and technology access for persons with visual impairments. Structured Negotiations have been used to reach a comprehensive agreement to improve accessibility for people with disabilities with UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco, to address the failure to maintain accessible restrooms in a medical building, and to reverse an insurance company decision to deny long term care insurance to a blind consumer.

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) is a nonprofit, civil rights law firm that strives for social justice through impact litigation, systemic reform, community organizing and advocacy.  Through its Opportunity & Access Program, NYLPI works in partnership with individuals and communities, to achieve equality of opportunity, dignity and independence for people with disabilities in New York City, with a focus on eliminating barriers facing underserved communities.  NYLPI has developed a Medical Access Project, which partners with community-based organizations, providers and disability rights groups to illuminate and remove obstacles to health care experienced by persons with all types of disabilities throughout New York City.  The work was inspired in part by the 2007 success in NYLPI’s case against Staten Island University Hospital, which ended discriminatory practices by the hospital, such as a segregated waiting room for people with disabilities, and resulted in the development of a new training program for staff to ensure that all employees are knowledgeable about the rights of patients with disabilities.