Disability Advocacy and COVID-19

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is a national cross-disability civil rights organization that works to advance the political and economic power of the more than 60 million individuals with disabilities in this country. The COVID-19 pandemic occurring in the United States should be of utmost concern to every lawmaker in the country. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and additional public health experts have stated that people with disabilities are more vulnerable to COVID-19. Beyond the specific conditions or diagnoses that may raise susceptibility to the virus itself, people with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to the broader social, civil, and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Below are some resources and actions advocates can take to support people with disabilities’ needs and concerns so they are adequately addressed in COVID-19 efforts.


Disability in the Time of Covid-19: A Storybook

While COVID-19 has impacted the lives of every American, the pandemic has amplified and exacerbated existing disparities faced by people with disabilities, communities of color, women, communities lacking adequate internet and more often with dire consequences. With support from the New America Foundation and Blue Meridian Partners, American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) conducted interviews with disability advocates and captured stories of people with disabilities impacted by COVID.  We compiled these interviews and stories in a storybook, Disability in the Time of COVID-19. Key recommendations that emerged from the interviews include:

  • Increase funding for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS).
  • Sustain and expand the Emergency Broadband Benefit established under the CARES Act to build towards inclusive digital infrastructure.
  • Reform public benefits to promote financial security and resilience, not poverty.
  • Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and secure higher wages for Direct Support Professionals.

Read the stories in Disability in the Time of COVID-19 on our interactive online storybook or in our pdf storybook.

COVID-19 and the Disability Vote

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) recently published a report on COVID-19 and the Disability Vote, which explores the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on voting accessibility. Created in collaboration with many disability and voting rights advocates, the report provides key policy recommendations to ensure that voters with disabilities have full access to our democracy in 2020 and beyond. Below are some of actions that AAPD calls for at the local, state, and federal levels of government:

  • Make sure all voters can register to vote and cast a ballot remotely.
  • Allow voters with disabilities to receive and mark their ballot digitally.
  • Make in-person voting safe and accessible with early voting, curbside voting, and more.
  • Educate voters on voting rights, options, and safety in multiple and accessible formats.
  • Ensure voters in congregate settings can register to vote and cast their ballot.
  • Explore, innovate, and test electronic voting methods.
  • Ensure states have the funding needed to make voting safe and accessible this election.

Read the full report.

Changes in the U.S. Postal Service:

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) are deeply concerned about reports of delays in deliveries and reduced capacity of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). The recent changes in operations of the USPS and the resulting delays pose a threat to the equal participation of people with disabilities in our communities, our health, and our civil rights. People with disabilities rely on USPS to receive important information and necessities, such as prescription medications and medical supplies, bills and
notices, paychecks and benefit checks, and social communication.
Additionally, many people with disabilities plan to vote by mail in the upcoming election as a way to exercise their most fundamental and sacred right to vote while reducing the risk of exposure to coronavirus.

AAPD and the NCIL  collected stories of people with disabilities impacted by the recent USPS changes. We collected over 100 stories and sent a sample of them with this letter to House Leadership and members of the House Oversight Committee in advance of their hearing on the USPS on August 24, 2020.  Below are the quotes that stood out the most: 

AAPD Community Calls: 

On Friday, April 3 AAPD hosted a teleconference focused on the legal non-discrimination obligations for healthcare providers during the COVID-19 crisis. The teleconference addressed legal rights for people with disabilities in health care settings, current practices related to people with disabilities in medical triage, and recommendations to prevent medical rationing and disability discrimination. Featured presenters and experts were:

Ted Kennedy, Jr., Board Chair, American Association of People with Disabilities and Law Partner, Epstein Becker Green.


Kara Ayers, Ph.D., Associate Director, UCEDD, Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics Cincinnati Children’s Hospital 

Samuel Bagenstos, Professor of Law, University of Michigan

Jennifer Mathis, Policy and Legal Director, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law 

Silvia Yee, Senior Staff Attorney, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund

Review the transcript and recording of the call.


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