ACHIEVA Has Hand in Opening Doors to Oral Healthcare for People Experiencing Disabilities


ACHIEVA Has Hand in Opening Doors to Oral Healthcare for People Experiencing Disabilities

For Immediate Release
Lisa Razza, Director of Communications
412-995-5000 x410

ACHIEVA Has Hand in Opening Doors to Oral Healthcare for People Experiencing Disabilities

(Pittsburgh, PA) — March 20, 2019 — There is one more thing to celebrate during National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Until recently, it was possible for some dentists to refuse treatment to people experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). All that has changed now that the American Dental Association (ADA) has revised their Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct to aid in the rights of patients with disabilities. The National Council on Disability (NCD) had recommended this change and commend the ADA on the improvement.

According to section 4.A. of the ADA code, dental care providers are prohibited from denying care to patients because of their disability. If the patient with disabilities is in need of care, they are to be referred to dentists who are able to provide the necessary skills, knowledge, and equipment for them.

Vanessa Rastovic, Policy Manager for the Disability Healthcare Initiative (DHI) at ACHIEVA has said, "Oral healthcare remains one of the most difficult forms of healthcare to access--especially for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Since 2005, DHI has been working toward equal access and improved health outcomes for people experiencing disabilities. We are pleased the American Dental Association has chosen to update their Code of Professional Conduct to require equal access to oral healthcare for people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities. ACHIEVA's DHI looks forward to continuing our work with the ADA, PDA, and dentists across the Commonwealth to help the dental profession with implementation."  

ACHIEVA's Disability Healthcare Initiative (DHI) has worked nationally and across the Commonwealth to increase access to oral healthcare for people with disabilities. The DHI has worked to create instructional materials for dentists and other dental professionals to increase inclusion of patients with I/DD. Recently, the DHI partnered with the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine to provide Continuing Education for dentists to improve their knowledge and skills about providing treatment to patients experiencing disabilities. DHI also lead a "Take 5" campaign to encourage more dentists to accept publicly insured patients with disabilities into their practices. Together with the Pennsylvania Coalition for Oral Health (PCOH), DHI is working to persuade lawmakers to improve access to dental care for adults with disabilities. DHI also serves with representatives of the American Dental Association (ADA) on the Oral Health Progress and Equity Network's "National Oral Health Connection Team." ACHIEVA's DHI applauds the ADA's recent decision to revise their Professional Code of Conduct to require dentists to increase ID/DD inclusivity in their practices.

Most people don't realize that, even though we have the Americans with Disabilities Act, barriers to healthcare access still widely exist for people living with disabilities. This is something the DHI has diligently been working to change so we consider this step by the ADA as a huge win for people with I/DD.



ACHIEVA is a non-profit organization located in southwestern Pennsylvania providing lifelong supports to people with disabilities and their families. We offer a wide array of supports and services including ACHIEVA Family Trust, Advocacy, Community Supported Living, Disability Healthcare Initiative, Early Intervention, Employment Supports, Home & Community Supports, Recreation, and Representative Payee. ACHIEVA envisions a community where disability is a distinction that makes no difference.