National Federation of the Blind Applauds Introduction of Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act

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National Federation of the Blind Applauds Introduction of Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act

Urges Swift Passage of Legislation to Preserve Independence and Health of Blind People

Baltimore, Maryland (August 4, 2021): The National Federation of the Blind, the transformative civil rights and advocacy organization of blind Americans, today applauded the introduction of the Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act (H.R. 4853) in the United States House of Representatives. The bill was introduced by Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). 

This legislation calls upon the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to promulgate nonvisual accessibility standards for Class II and Class III medical devices with digital displays. This standard would apply to devices such as glucometers, sleep apnea machines, blood pressure monitors, thermometers, and oximeters. Once the FDA issues a final rule, manufacturers will have a year to comply. The legislation also authorizes the FDA to treat noncompliance as an adulterated product, as defined in 21 U.S.C. Section 351.

“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.”