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4 Reasons Why Inclusive Innovation Matter

May 21 marks Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which brings to the forefront digital access and inclusion for the more than one billion people with disabilities and impairments.

At Stony Brook Medicine, Kimberly Noel, MD, MPH, Telehealth Director and Deputy Chief Medical Information Officer for Stony Brook Medicine and Brooke Ellison, PhD, MPP, Associate Professor and Interim Program Director of the PhD program in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences for Stony Brook University have continued to collaborate and grow Inclusive Innovation, which refers to ensuring that persons with disabilities are strategic partners and key stakeholders in technological development, especially as it relates to healthcare.

Drs. Noel and Ellison are available to discuss this topic and share their reasons and impact for why Inclusive Innovation matters for serving persons with disabilities.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Noel’s efforts helped Stony Brook Medicine to quickly respond in the current state of emergency and to make healthcare accessible with diverse digital tools. Dr. Ellison taught a Renaissance School of Medicine course on telehealth which included a lesson on Inclusive Innovation centered on what it means in terms of medical ethics as well as best practices.

  1. 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), a piece of civil rights legislation that championed rights for people with disabilities. Future Civil Rights will need to address equality in terms of accessible technologies.
  2. Full inclusion means incorporating people with disabilities in every step of the innovation process, from idea generation at the start to marketing at the conclusion.
  3. The mantra, “nothing about us without us” implied that people with disabilities should be key partners in disability-related conversations. This has given way to “nothing without us”, making the even more emphatic statements that there are no public policy or social conversations that should not include the voice of people with disabilities.
  4. During the global coronavirus pandemic, Telehealth became a key strategy in addressing the public health emergency, incentivizing rapid development of Telehealth solutions through changes of law and reimbursement policies. Rapid deployments have raised concerns for equity as many solutions fail to address inclusion.  Failure to provide accessible technologies in Telehealth, may limit overall access to Healthcare thereby compounding existing disparities.
Another Stony Brook initiative also aims to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities during COVID-19. Michelle Ballan, PhD, Professor and Associate Dean of Research in the Stony Brook University School of Social Welfare and Professor of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine, created a “COVID Disability Form,” which she says was intended to “reduce healthcare barriers and to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) communicate their needs, whether the patient is verbal or non-verbal.” The form, which has now been translated into 12 languages and amended for all 50 states, is designed to be completed by an adult with IDD, his/her family or representatives to help medical staff understand their condition. Learn more here.

For interviews with Drs. Noel and Ellison or Michelle Ballan, please contact: or 631.487.4092.

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