Occupational Therapy: A Field That Enables Accessibility

Web Accessibility Knowledgebase

Here’s how occupational therapists are shaping a more inclusive future, and making their clinics more accessible for their clients.

accessiBe Team

While all businesses and professions should make the changes necessary to be accessible and inclusive, some professional fields directly impact accessibility both for individuals and entire communities. In honor of Occupational Therapy (OT) Month, accessiBe is shining a spotlight on some of the phenomenal OTs from some of our nonprofit partner organizations. Here’s how OTs are shaping a more inclusive future, and making their clinics more accessible for their clients.

Why Occupational Therapy

Tammy Bruegger, OT from the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired has done extensive research on the impact of Eye Gaze Technology on visual processing and occupational performance in children with Cortical Visual Impairment. She is passionate about her work and the impact she is making:

“I chose to be an OT because I wanted a profession that I helped people every day and considered all aspects of life from mental health, psychosocial aspects, sensory, cognitive and physical function, daily living skills, participation, and quality of life. It involves a lot of creativity and is holistic. I love it and have for over 40 years of practice!”

Cara Brown, OT from the Achievement Centers for Children in Cleveland, Ohio has been with the ACC for all four years of her career.

“From a young age, I’ve been drawn to the idea of making a positive impact on people’s lives and prompting their independence and well-being. In middle school, junior high, and high school, I volunteered and worked regularly in our special needs classrooms where I got to witness the school occupational therapist work with the children and see them achieve their goals. As one of my professors stated, ‘PT helps you move and OT helps you dance’ which sums up perfectly what OT means to me.”

Lindsay Snyder, OT has worked at the Achievement Centers for Children for 10 years. 

“When choosing a career, I knew I wanted to make an impact on people’s day-to-day lives. I knew I wanted to be in the healthcare field and there are so many different careers within this that I could make a difference. I happened to hear about OT and how their sole focus is helping people with day-to-day tasks and making them as independent as possible. I knew this was the career for me because I would be able to educate and practice everyday tasks that are meaningful to the patient and help them find ways to participate in these tasks, which directly affect their quality of life for the better.”

Making the OT Experience Accessible

All medical practices and clinics can make their experiences accessible to everyone. Here’s how these OTs make it work:

Offer virtual appointments if possible

“We recognize the importance of accommodating diverse needs and strive to make our scheduling process as seamless and convenient as possible. To facilitate scheduling for patients with disabilities, we offer a range of accommodations, including virtual appointments. Virtual appointments provide an accessible option for individuals who may face barriers to accessing traditional in-person appointments due to mobility issues, transportation limitations, or other challenges.” - Cara Brown

Make the space inclusive

“Our facility in particular is very unique because it was built to accommodate clients with disabilities. For example, every level of the building has a ramp to accessibility, every bathroom has a stall with grab bars for ease of use, there are railings throughout to assist with walking accessibility, and rooms with gates for added safety for those clients who require an increased level of safety.” - Lindsay Snyder

Colleen Fogarty, Senior Public Relations Specialist at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) shares how to make medical practices accessible by complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For example, does your practice have ramps, accessible parking spots, and a layout that includes people with both visual, auditory, and physical disabilities? 

You can check out the 3 part series here:

1. The Basics of ADA’s Effective Communication Requirement
2. Common Misconceptions on ADA-Compliant Communication
3. Communicating with an individual with a communication disability

Want to learn more about occupational therapy or how to make your client experience more accessible? You can find out more from our relevant nonprofit partners.