National Federation of the Blind Commends Senate Introduction of Medical Devices Nonvisual Accessibility Act
Washington, D.C. (January 18, 2024): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the transformative advocacy organization of blind Americans, commends Senators Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Mike Braun of Indiana for their introduction of the Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act (S. 3621) in the United States Senate. This legislation will ensure that medical devices are designed and manufactured with nonvisual accessibility features, enabling blind and low-vision individuals to use and access these critical devices safely and independently.
The bipartisan Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act authorizes the Food and Drug Administration to promulgate regulations requiring manufacturers of Class II and Class III medical devices — such as insulin pumps, glucometers, heart monitors, and CPAP machines — to incorporate nonvisual accessibility features like audio output and tactilely distinguishable controls. These features will enable blind and low-vision people to use medical devices without assistance from a sighted person, allowing blind Americans to maintain their independence and promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Companion legislation (H.R. 1328) has been introduced in the House of Representatives.
Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Accessibility is not a matter of mere convenience, but a moral imperative that, with respect to healthcare, can make the difference between good and poor health outcomes and even between life and death. Blind Americans must have nonvisual access to medical technology that is crucial to our well-being. The Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act will ensure that future medical devices are designed with nonvisual accessibility features, granting us full independence and control over our own healthcare. We commend Senator Hassan and Senator Braun for their bipartisan work on this critical legislation and urge their colleagues to join them in supporting it.”