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The impact of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities

Blind woman from Ethiopia

In the current situation of the global health crisis due to COVID-19, from Bridging the Gap we would like to emphasize the higher risk faced by persons with disabilities or chronic illnesses, especially in low and middle-income countries.

In order to successfully meet this challenge and comply with the 2030 Agenda, persons with disabilities must be included in all plans to manage the current COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. This implies that the information provided by governments and institutions both to prevent infection and to know how to act in case of illness must be available in accessible formats, including sign language, video captioning, the use of alternative text in images and graphics displayed digitally, and easy-to-read versions.

It is also important to remove the barriers that group faces in accessing health services and hygiene products, as well as to consider reasonable accommodation measures to allow them to work from home and, if that is not possible, to ensure they receive a paid leave to guarantee their income.

Similarly, confinement measures should be adapted to the needs of specific groups to ensure their well-being. For example, people who need home assistance should keep receiving it and, in the case of persons with psychosocial disabilities, they cannot be required to live in total isolation.

In the battle against COVID-19, it is also essential to follow the motto of the United Nations’ Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities: “Nothing about us, without us”. Persons with disabilities, through their representative organizations, are the ones who can better advise the political authorities to include the disability dimension in the prevention, mitigation and monitoring plans related to this disease.

We can fight coronavirus together. Do not leave persons with disabilities behind.

For more information on COVID-19 and disability:

Statement by the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Catalina Devandas: COVID-19: Who is protecting the people with disabilities?

European Disability Forum’s Open letter to Leaders at the EU and in EU Countries: COVID-19 – Disability Inclusive Response

COVID 19 and the disability movement

Recommendations for Immediate COVID-19 Action by the World Institute on Disability

Easy-to-read-guidelines on COVID-19 by Chosen Power (People First Hong Kong)