Schakowsky Introduces Legislation to Make Sure Home-Use Medical Devices Are Accessible to Blind and Low-Vision Americans

August 6, 2021
Press Release

EVANSTON -   Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, announced the introduction of H.R. 4853, the Medical Device Nonvisual Access Act. This bill would ensure that home-use medical devices are accessible to blind and low-vision Americans across the country.

“I am proud to introduce this bill, to ensure that medical devices like blood glucose and blood pressure monitors are truly accessible to people who are blind or have low-vision,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “The importance of access to technology today cannot be overstated. In many cases, a blind person’s ability to manage their health and livelihood depends upon the ability to use these home-use medical devices. As Americans, we cannot stand idly by while people who are blind or have low vision are excluded from a full, happy, and independent life due to these inaccessible technologies.”

The Medical Device Nonvisual Access Act calls on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to create and enforce nonvisual accessibility standards for home-use medical devices, so that devices are fully accessible to blind or low-vision persons, out of the box. The bill also requires the FDA to consult with the disability community and manufacturers throughout the process.

The Medical Device Nonvisual Access Act is endorsed by the National Federation of the Blind.

“Life-sustaining medical devices used in the home, such as insulin pumps and blood pressure monitors, have the potential to help blind people live the lives we want, but only if they are fully accessible,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “Currently, however, the inaccessible design of most of these devices makes their controls difficult, or even impossible, for us to use them. This is not a mere inconvenience; inaccessibility threatens our independence, health, and safety. Full access to all features of a device is critical and achievable. We therefore commend Representative Schakowsky for introducing this legislation and urge members of Congress to act swiftly to pass it.”

Text of the legislation is available HERE.