Published on: Jun 28, 2023 

A federal judge issued a ruling this week that helps blind patients who go to UNC Health for their health care. Chief Judge Thomas D. Schroeder of the Middle District of North Carolina said that UNC Health was causing harm to blind patients named Timothy Miles and Ricky Scott because they weren’t given healthcare documents in an accessible format they could read. The judge ordered UNC Health to give Mr. Miles large print versions of documents and Dr. Scott documents in Braille or accessible electronic versions of his healthcare documents. 

The judge said it was obvious the documents were not accessible and pointed out an example of a bill that Mr. Miles got after a doctor’s appointment. The part where he had to put his credit card information was too small for him to read. There were also other sections with small print that were hard for him to see. The judge said it was clear that these documents, along with many others, were not accessible for someone with Mr. Miles’s vision loss. In addition, UNC Health uses a website with a patient portal called My UNC Chart where patients can access healthcare documents, but the judge found that it wasn’t accessible to blind people like Dr. Scott who use screen readers to access documents. Judge Schroeder also noted My UNC Chart was not accessible to people with light sensitivity who have trouble looking at bright computer screens, like Mr. Miles. 

This case was in court for five years, and during that time, UNC Health began taking some steps to communicate better with blind people. Now, when a patient goes for an appointment, they should be asked if they have vision loss and if they need their documents in a different format to be able to read them. UNC Health also posted large-print versions of some commonly-used documents on the Language & Accessibility Services ( page of the UNC Health website.  

If you go to UNC Health or one of the places they manage, we encourage you to tell the front desk staff if you need any accommodations for your disability when you check in for your appointment. You can also read UNC Health’s Notice of Nondiscrimination to find out who to contact if you need help getting documents in the format you need or any other help communicating with your healthcare provider. If you are still having trouble effectively communicating with UNC Health providers, you can contact DRNC for assistance.