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OCR Secures Access to Support Persons for People With Communication Disorders

June 10, 2020

On June 9, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced an Early Case Resolution (ECR) with Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut, after it agreed to grant the right of a 73-year-old woman with aphasia to have support persons accompany her in the hospital to help with her communication and comprehension in her treatment. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) applauds OCR and Hartford Hospital for reaching an agreement.

OCR also reached a resolution with the State of Connecticut related to “an executive order regarding non-visitation policies for short-term hospitals, outpatient clinics, and outpatient surgical facilities to ensure that people with disabilities are not denied reasonable access to needed support persons.” Connecticut has issued a new executive order “to ensure that people with disabilities have reasonable access to support personnel in hospital settings in a manner that is consistent with disability rights laws and the health and safety of patients, health care providers, and support persons."

In announcing the ECRs, OCR Director Roger Severino stated: “We cannot commend Connecticut enough for quickly updating its policies to protect the right of persons with disabilities to equal treatment especially during a crisis.”

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