Social and Legal Epidemiology
Social epidemiology: "the study of how society and different forms of social organization influence the health and well-being of individuals and populations."
Legal epidemiology: "the study of law as a factor in the cause, distribution, and prevention of disease and injury."
We apply historical and life-course perspectives to understand how social structures are designed to negatively impact the quality of life among people with disabilities. Pertinent to this work, we primarily assess the impact of law. There are several disability civil rights laws and regulations that impact disabled people's access to healthcare and health-promoting resources: (1) Section 504 of the Rehab Act of 1973; (2) the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; and, (3) the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. My work in legal epidemiology and public health law research focuses on how the implementation and enforcement of these regulations, or lack thereof, impact the quality of life of people with disabilities.
Communication Access for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing People
Our projects have focused on assessing patients' experiences with receiving accessible healthcare communication mandated by regulations including the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This includes:
Communication in emergency rooms for deaf people who use American Sign Language to communicate (James et al., 2022).
Mental health and treatment facility non-compliance with Section 1557 by not providing services in sign language to deaf patients (James et al., 2022).
Communication access for deaf people in perinatal care (James et al., 2023).
Impact of Ableism on Health and Quality of Life
Ableism is a form of discrimination targeted against people who are, or who are perceived to be, disabled. Ableism can impact the policies developed by the federal and state governments, by companies, and by individuals. Our research seeks to identify the role of ableism in the health and quality of life outcomes among people with disabilities. Our research includes:
Understanding the attitudinal environment affecting people living with physical disabilities (Reber et al., 2022).