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AARP-backed Bill Would Make Medical Devices Accessible to Visually Impaired People

Woman Showing Her Glucose Level Test.
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En español | Makers of medical devices such as insulin pumps and glucose monitors would need to make them accessible for people who are blind or visually impaired, under legislation endorsed by AARP.

We wrote to federal lawmakers March 15 in support of the Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act of 2024. The bill, introduced in January by Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire) and Mike Braun (R-Indiana), would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop rules to ensure devices with digital readouts include accessibility features for the blind and visually impaired. A bipartisan companion bill was introduced in the House in 2023.

Roughly 6 in 10 people who are blind or visually impaired in the U.S. are 65 or older, and more than a quarter of U.S. adults 71 and older are visually impaired, AARP Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Bill Sweeney wrote in an endorsement letter to the bill’s sponsors.

“People with all types of disabilities, including blindness and low vision, should be able to benefit from technologies that help them improve their health and make their lives easier,” Sweeney wrote. “Ensuring that nonvisual features are incorporated into new medical devices will promote the independence and control that older Americans need to successfully age in their homes and communities — where they want to be.”

The legislation would bring medical devices in line with most smartphones and computers, which include these accessibility features, Hassan said in a news release. There would be exceptions if features would change the fundamental nature of the device.

Read our letters to House and Senate lawmakers and keep up with AARP’s eye health coverage.

Natalie Missakian covers federal and state policy and writes AARP’s Fighting for You Every Day blog. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Haven Register and daily newspapers in Ohio. She has also written for the AARP Bulletin, the Hartford Business Journal and other publications.

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