News from Idaho SILC
COVID-19 & Disability: Know Your Rights!
As we continue to respond and react to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important now than ever that we know and advocate for our rights. As a person with a disability, we have the right to:
COVID Testing – We have a right to access testing just like everyone else. This means that everything from the physical site to information and all forms of communication. If we cannot get to the testing site, we can request an accommodation. For example you could be tested at home. If we need accommodation at the testing drive-thru, we can request it. No one can be denied access to a test because of a disability.
Communication – We have a right to accessible communication and information in healthcare settings (clinics, hospitals, drive-thru testing). For example, if we use an in-person ASL interpreter, but a hospital restricts visitors due to COVID-19, you can request an accommodation to have that interpreter present. Information on COVID-19 must be available in accessible formats, including closed captions for informational videos, readable electronic documents and braille, and plain language.
Service Animals – We have a right to our service animal. Early in the spread of COVID-19, some speculated that dogs and cats may spread the disease. According to the CDC, “there is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare.”
Equipment – We have the right to our own equipment, like wheelchairs, adaptive technology for communication, or a ventilator. Our ventilators cannot be taken from us and given to someone else if we are admitted to the hospital.
Supports – We have the right to bring the people who support us with us if we are hospitalized, unless they are sick too. It is our right to have the people who understand how we communicate, know our medical details and can advocate on our behalf.
Education – We have the right to a full and complete education, whether from home or in the classroom during COVID-19, despite unequal access to the internet.
In addition to these legal rights, we should also consider the following:
Data – We have the right to be counted. As people with disabilities, we know that disasters impact us more than people without disabilities. Public health officials should be collecting data on how many people with disabilities have become sick due to COVID-19. We must know how many people have become sick in nursing homes and community-based settings.
PPE – We have a right to access personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves and masks. This critical equipment will keep us and our personal attendants healthy, prevent the spread of disease, and keep us out of institutions. The PPE needs of our in-home care providers should be given higher priority.
For more information on your rights, and for disability-related COVID-19 resources, go to http://silc.idaho.gov or contact the Northwest ADA Center – Idaho at 208-841-9422