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Telehealth and Disability

Telehealth resources for Hawaiʻi’s disability community

Telehealth and Disability

Overview of Hawaiʻi's Disability Community

Hawaiʻi’s disabled community is at a distinct technological disadvantage. COVID-19 has shone a light on one of the disparities our disabled community faces in the pursuit of digital literacy. Some 62% of adults with a disability say they own a desktop or laptop computer, compared with 81% of those without a disability. The affordability of devices and connectivity, as well as lack of access to training, is only compounded by the need for assistive and adaptive technology. Access to technology is critical to telehealth services.

Much of the Hawaiʻi population enjoys digital literacy and often takes for granted everyday occurrences like video calling. Internet access is a human right as declared by the UN General Assembly in 2016, and addressing digital inequity is the next step to ensuring all of Hawaiʻi’s underserved disability population is receiving the same access that others consider commonplace.

Woman and elderly man in wheelchair in kitchen with the man using a tablet

Barriers to Digital Literacy and Equity in the Disability Community

Socially and economically disadvantaged people face barriers to accessing health systems and are more at risk of suffering from chronic health conditions. Lack of access to broadband and devices is contributing to this unequal distribution of vulnerability. In addition, there are significant language barriers among cultural groups throughout Hawaiʻi. There is also a large aging population that acquires age-related disabilities and at times are unable to seek local services due to the geographic nature of the Hawaiian islands.

Recommendations for Providers

This guide, published by the Telehealth Resource Center, covers topics including: definition of disability, legal obligations, general recommendations for providers, and tips for effectively communicating with patients that have a variety of disabilities.

Aloha Independent Living Hawaiʻi TeleConnect Project Partnership

PBTRC is partnering with Aloha Independent Living Hawaiʻi (AILH), bringing together the perspective of both the providers and the patients. AILH brings over 13 years of service and experience with the disability community to our mission.

Together, PBTRC and AILH’s TeleConnect Program will reach our common goal of bridging the divide between service provider, patient, and support system.

Two men at a desk and a woman wearing a mask helping them to use an ipad