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Mission and History

The Disability Equity Collaborative (DEC) supports individuals,  healthcare organizations, policy makers, advocates, researchers, and professional organizations working to address the health disparities experienced by patients with all types of disabilities.

In 2018, Dr. Megan Morris and her colleagues at the University of Colorado Anschutz created DEC to address the significant issues of unequal access to healthcare for people with disabilities. In 2019, DEC was formalized with an Engagement Award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

Although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been in place for more than three decades, the lack of enforcement mechanisms has resulted in uneven, piecemeal, and ineffective implementation of the law in healthcare settings. This has been brought to light even further by the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing movement to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion in every sphere of our society, including healthcare.

Beyond enforcing the law, we need a shift in attitudes and understanding to achieve true healthcare equity for people with disabilities. DEC and its partners are committed to working with practitioners, health care systems, hospitals, researchers, and policy makers to develop meaningful, practical solutions that ensure access to equitable, high quality care for all people.

In fall of 2020, DEC convened a national Summit to collaboratively identify priorities and actionable steps. Over 80 people representing diverse stakeholders participated across the two days of the Summit. The findings from this meeting directly informed the growth and mission of DEC. Materials and findings from the Summit can be found here.

How We Work

The DEC’s efforts to advance disability equity are centered in three main areas:

DEC Leaders | The DEC Leaders group is a national collaboration of disability accessibility coordinators—and people working in similar roles—in healthcare organizations, who meet regularly through virtual meetings and an online community to share ideas and solutions to ensure equitable care for patients with disabilities.

Resources | We have compiled—and continue to update and develop—a wide variety of resources that support healthcare equity initiatives, including links to training materials for staff and guides for implementing accessibility initiatives.

Research | The DEC engages researchers, policy makers, funders, payers, people with disabilities, patient advocates and healthcare organizations to identify critical research priorities and work on evidence-based interventions necessary to improve accessibility and quality of health care delivered to people with disabilities.

To keep up to date with the DEC’s work and learn about new opportunities and resources, sign up for our quarterly e-newsletter. Subscribe here.

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