The COVID-19 pandemic is a serious threat, not only to our health, but also to the services and supports that people with disabilities depend on. People with disabilities, and other marginalized people, are disproportionately impacted by this crisis, and we are seeing that impact unfold day after day. But there are many things that we can do to help our communities now: by organizing, advocating, fighting discrimination, and sharing resources, all of us can make a difference.
At ASAN, we’ve been working every day to keep our community safe through the pandemic. We wanted to take a moment to update you on what we’ve been doing.
- Documenting the pandemic’s impact on our community – Coronavirus is spreading through congregate settings (like group homes, nursing homes, and other institutions) at an alarming rate, putting our community members at risk. We created the COVID-19 case tracker to collect the available information on how COVID-19 is affecting people with disabilities in institutions.
- Fighting discriminatory medical rationing – After the department of Health & Human Services released guidance prohibiting discriminatory rationing of medical care, we worked in coalition with other disability organizations to create a guide for states, hospitals, and health care providers. Our coalition also created a tool that advocates can use to fight discriminatory practices in their own states. ASAN continues to work with other disability organizations to challenge state COVID-19 response plans that could lead to discrimination against people with disabilities.
- Calling on hospitals to allow people with disabilities proper supports – In addition, ASAN, along with over a hundred state, local and national advocacy organizations, has released letters calling on state governors and hospital administrators to allow supporters to accompany people with disabilities to the hospital. Without the right supports, people with disabilities may not be able to safely get care in a hospital or doctor’s office. In the COVID-19 toolkit we created with Green Mountain Self-Advocates, we have tools on how to advocate for hospitals to allow supporters for people with disabilities, and a form to help people with disabilities get the supports we need if we go to the hospital.
- Creating accessible COVID-19 resources – People with disabilities need accurate, accessible information about COVID-19. We’re partnering with other disability organizations to create cognitively accessible resources, including this plain language animated video we developed with Rooted in Rights, and this COVID-19 toolkit from Green Mountain Self-Advocates.
- Advocating to Congress for what we need – We’re continuing to work in coalition with other disability rights organizations to advocate for the needs of our community. We’re fighting for emergency funding for home- and community-based services to get people out of dangerous congregate settings and into the community. We’ll keep holding Congress accountable for future legislation, and let you know when it’s time to reach out to your elected officials.
In the months to come, all of us at ASAN will continue working to ensure that the urgent needs of our community are met during this crisis. While we may all be physically apart right now, self-advocates around the country are organizing to fight discrimination and to take care of each other. None of us are in this fight alone — we are all in this together, and we’ll keep fighting for each other for as long as it takes.