UCSF Group Hosts Presentation on Health Care Challenges for People with Disabilities

By Bruce Flynn

When Mary Lou Breslin became a disability rights advocate some 30 years ago, the term wasn’t exactly a household phrase. She just knew she wanted to help disabled friends and family members who were going through challenges accessing health care.

“A dear friend of mine who is a wheelchair user found out she had breast cancer around 1997,” said Breslin, senior policy advisor at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF). “She was referred to a medical institution for service but she couldn’t be seen initially because they didn’t have a height-adjustable exam table. So they eventually put blankets on the floor, and that’s where she was examined.”

Changes to the health care industry to better accommodate patients with physical disabilities have been slow, according to Breslin, despite laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, which prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability.

She hopes to raise issues that impact people with disabilities in a health care environment.

Mary Lou Breslin

Breslin, a nationally recognized expert on disability advocacy, will be the featured speaker at a presentation about health disparities among patients with disabilities, which will take place at 12 noon, on January 24, in Cole Hall at the Parnassus campus. She will also talk about barriers to care, as well as highlight some models that are working well.

“I hope this dialogue can help influence provider education while making more people aware about the issues that people with disabilities face on a day-to-day basis,” Breslin said.

This presentation will integrate video material from the video series “Healthcare Stories,” which includes interviews of people with disabilities and their advocates.

The event is sponsored by the UCSF Committee on Disability Issues.