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United Nations Urged to Lead Action to End Discrimination Against People With Disabilities in the Response to COVID-19

By IDA
May 18, 2020

New campaign by disability rights groups calls for more leadership from the United Nations to ensure COVID-19 measures include people with disabilities.

Lack of concerted action from governments and health authorities is putting the lives of people with disabilities at greater risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC).

The two leading disability rights bodies have launched a campaign to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities and call for public health information and communications around COVID19 to be fully accessible.

Global Mental Health Crisis Looming Due to coronavirus Pandemic, UN Warns

Kate Kelland Reuters
May 14, 2020

While countries around the world continue to mobilize to contain the spread of COVID-19, mental health experts say we can’t lose sight of an equally alarming issue: The long-term mental health impact the coronavirus pandemic is going to leave on society.

A mental illness crisis is looming as millions of people worldwide are surrounded by death and disease and forced into isolation, poverty and anxiety by the pandemic of COVID-19, United Nations health experts said on Thursday.

“The isolation, the fear, the uncertainty, the economic turmoil they all cause or could cause psychological distress,” said Devora Kestel, director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) mental health department.

Why Coronavirus May Make the World More Accessible

BBC Future

With millions under lockdown, many non-disabled people are experiencing, for the first time, how it feels to have external barriers preventing you from participating in everyday life.

But although countries around the world have put policies and practices in place to make public spaces, workplaces and other aspects of society more accessible, many barriers still exist for people with disabilities.

With disabled people making up 15% of the global population, greater accessibility has the potential to improve millions of lives of those 1.3 billion people. But it would help the non-disabled population, too.

‘I Need Help’: Coronavirus Highlights Disparities Among Canadians With Disabilities

Emerald Bensadoun GlobalNews.ca
May 6, 2020

Prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic, 27-year-old Marissa Blake was rarely ever home.

Now, Blake, who lives in Toronto supportive housing and needs assistance to walk, can only have one visitor a week for three hours and can’t see her friends in-person. An appointment to discuss surgery on her legs was cancelled, and her sleep and care schedule are in flux because her personal support workers keep changing.

“It’s difficult,” she said. “I feel like I’m in jail.”

Her exercise program with March of Dimes Canada, a rehabilitation foundation for disabled persons, was cancelled, and Blake said she’s been less physically active than usual.

People With Visual Impairments Struggling to Access Essentials During coronavirus Restrictions

By Shelley Steeves -Global News
Originally Posted May 1, 2020

According to the CNIB Foundation of New Brunswick, residents with visual impairments are struggling to navigate their communities amid coronavirus restrictions.

Christine Kennedy-Babineau, the program and resource development manager for CNIB New Brunswick, said some of the changes that have been made at grocery stores are presenting a challenge for people with vision loss.

“Now we have lines where you are supposed to go to line up and arrows directing traffic flow through stores and someone with sight loss who is blind or partially sighted isn’t able to see them,” Kennedy-Babineau said.

Hong Kong’s Visually Impaired Deprived of Covid-19 Information With Half of Chinese-Language News Apps Inaccessible, NGO Finds

Hong Kong Blind Union says 2,000 kept out of the loop over city’s infected tally, mask availability and other important updates
Five of the 10 Chinese-language media reviewed fell short in areas such as font size and screen display Victor Ting
Published: Apr, 2020

Visually impaired people in Hong Kong are struggling to get hold of crucial information about the coronavirus because half of the city’s major Chinese-language news organisations do not have accessible smartphone apps, a local disability group has said.

With more than 2.9 million people infected worldwide, including 1,037 locally, an investigation by Hong Kong Blind Union revealed Covid-19’s “disproportionate” impact on the 2,000 visually challenged residents the non-governmental organisation represents.

B.C. Woman With Disability Dies Alone in Hospital Due to COVID-19 Visitor Restrictions

By John Hua
Global News, April 24, 2020

The family of a B.C. woman with a disability is calling for an investigation after she died alone at the Peace Arch Hospital.

In life, Ariis Knight’s family says she defied limitations.

The 40-year-old had cerebral palsy and was non-verbal, but found her own way to communicate with her family and support workers.

“She had a full range of facial expressions,” her brother David Knight told Global News.

“She was able to answer yes or no questions not with her voice but with her eyes.”

Ariis was admitted to hospital April 15 with symptoms of congestion, fever and vomiting but did not have COVID-19.

Innovative Masks to Help Persons with Visual Impairment

Middle East, News
April 24 2020

ISRAEL: For the hearing impaired, this is no easy task, as it adds an extra layer of difficulty to their ability to communicate, often times with various service providers such as doctors and nurses. As face masks have become an inseparable part of the lives of millions of Israelis there are those who may have more trouble with the new law requiring to wear them.

“Masks of this type improve the accessibility and communication of handicapped people who use lip reading, as well as people with an intellectual disability,” said Yuval Wagner, CEO of the “Access Israel.”

Provincial government Responds to the CNIB Foundation About Accessibility Issues with Ontario Health Card Renewal Process

Over the last few months, the CNIB Foundation has been asking the Ontario government to ensure Ontarians who are blind, partially sighted or Deafblind have equal access to renewing their health card online. As it stands, a person needs a valid Ontario driver’s licence, which is unacceptable because it prevents Ontarians with sight loss from using the same process.

At the end of March, we received a response from Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. In her letter, Minister Thompson states:

“Renewing the Ontario health card online has been a government pilot project, and currently, Ontarians need a driver’s licence to renew their health card online. But we realize this approach does not work for everyone.

Morning Show Now with Dave Brown Puts News in the Lens of Disability

Melissa Hank
Updated: April 13, 2020

Back in February, when protesters fighting the Coastal GasLink pipeline project erected blockades on Via Rail routes across Canada, at least 42,000 passengers in the Montreal-Toronto-Ottawa triangle were stranded.

News outlets jumped on the shutdown and its related issues ” Indigenous land rights, environmental costs and government intervention. But, says morning show host Dave Brown, the coverage was missing something.

“Not one show talked about how it impacted the blind curling team coming back from the national championship in Ottawa. There’s a way that disability and accessibility played into that story that a lot of people were blind to,” he says.

The Live-Streaming Boom Proves That Accessibility in Live Music Can – and Should – Be a Priority

‘As soon as live music was taken away from everyone, suddenly it was made accessible to everyone’ Luke Ottenhof · CBC Arts · Posted: Apr 14, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has been disastrous for the music industry, but in the absence of corporeal gatherings, musicians and fans have adapted to communing online. This trend has transcended class boundaries in an explicitly tiered industry: everyone from Coldplay to your old university roommate who plays free jazz improv is streaming their live performances online for people to watch from home. It’s a newly popular workaround for an industry traditionally reliant on physical proximity.

Federal Government names group to ensure disabled Canadians included in COVID-19 response

The Canadian Press
April 10, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic takes a particularly heavy toll on Canadians with disabilities and more efforts are needed to ensure they’re included in national efforts to respond to the crisis, the minister overseeing accessibility issues said Friday as she appointed an advisory group to take on the task.

Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough said disabled residents have been sounding alarms about a host of concerns related to the outbreak, which has already killed at least 550 Canadians and sickened a minimum of 22,000 others. In a statement announcing the advisory group, Qualtrough said greater efforts are needed to ensure disabled voices are heard during a troubling time.

The Mass Migration to Online Learning is Leaving Disabled Students Behind

Mythili Sampathkumar
Digital TrendsMarch 27, 2020

Rachel, an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was actually considering online classes last year before COVID-19 forced many students into online learning.

Rachel, who asked to remain anonymous for her safety, has a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome that affects everything in her body thats made out of collagen and causes damage to her autonomic nervous system, which controls breathing and blood circulation. A flare-up of her symptoms requires her to lie down immediately to quell dizzy spells, which has happened to her during a class.

Disability Groups File Complaint On Rationing Policies In Coronavirus Pandemic

People With Disabilities Say Rationing Care Policies Violate Civil Rights Joe Shapiro
NPR, March 23, 2020

People with disabilities are asking the federal government to stop what they say are policies by states and hospitals that will ration care and deny them treatment for the coronavirus.

On Monday, several disability groups filed a complaint against the state of Washington, one of the states hardest hit by the pandemic.

The Washington State Department of Health issued guidelines to help doctors and hospitals decide something they fear having to face deciding who gets scarce, life-saving care. One example: If there are, say, more people who need ventilators than the number of ventilators available.

COVID-19 Visitation Bans for People in Institutions Put Many at Risk in Other Ways

Barring visitors ignores the specific needs of those with intellectual and psychiatric disabilities By Natalie Spagnuolo, Michael Orsini
CBC News Opinion, Mar. 29, 2020

Disabled people know a lot about social isolation.

Many including those with intellectual and psychiatric disabilities are relying on the success of COVID-19 containment strategies, and lives are indeed at risk if they are not taken seriously. However, public health measures that restrict visiting rights to those in institutional settings are putting many at risk in other ways.

While public health principles have a rightful place in our decisions, so too do principles that recognize the humanity and dignity of people with disabilities.

COVID-19 and Disability: Recommendations to the Canadian Government from Disability Related Organizations in Canada

March 24, 2020

It is imperative that the Government of Canada urgently address the unique vulnerabilities of people with disabilities and their families during the COVID-19 crisis. People with disabilities represent 22% of the Canadian population. Many are at extreme risk and require additional support to ensure their health and safety at this time.

Some people with disabilities are vulnerable to COVID-19 because of the nature of their disability and related health challenges. Many others are at risk because of the measures put in place in response to COVID-19 which require people with disabilities and their families to distance themselves from their communities and support systems and to invest funds up front for supplies needed to maintain wellbeing during an extended period of isolation.

Microsoft Joins Forces With Enable Ireland to Embed AI Into Assistive Technology Passport

Irish Tech News’March 12, 2020

Microsoft and Enable Ireland have joined forces today to announce a new commitment to embed AI into the Assistive Technology Passport which is being developed to empower people with disabilities to have an independent life. The announcement marks the 20th anniversary of Microsoft’s partnership with Enable Ireland.

Disabled Canadians Feel Excluded From COVID-19 Messaging

Michelle McQuigge / The Canadian Press
March 18, 2020

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair, Minister of Transport Marc Garneau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Health Patty Hajdu and President of the Treasury Board Jean-Yves Duclos are flanked by sign language interpreters as they participate in a press conference on COVID-19 at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa, on Monday, March 16, 2020.

Karen McCall clicked eagerly on the link tweeted out by her provincial health ministry, keen to read the promised list of tips meant to help her protect against COVID-19.

Accessibility Essential for Alberta’s COVID-19 Updates: We have no choice but to wait

By Morgan Black -Global News
Posted March 16, 2020

On Monday, an ASL/English interpreter was present during an Alberta Health COVID-19 update for the first time.

It’s a significant moment for the deaf and hard of hearing community, which had called on the government to provide an interpreter or live captioning during the updates.

“It’s about accessibility,” said president of the Edmonton Association of the Deaf, Sarah Snively.

“Ever since the information was released about the pandemic, hearing individuals were kept informed by listening to what is being shared in real-time through all media outlets, while deaf people were left out.”

COMING TO TERMS WITH MY DISABILITY

By Amy M. Warren w
Globe and Mail, Mar. 16, 2020

I started my career as a 25-year-old professor eagerly running between classes, but my body held within it a debilitating illness. Looking back, there were clues. I was able to do “party tricks” (like bending my thumb backward until it touched my forearm), I had dental issues, I had knee surgery at the age of 16, I had multiple subluxations/dislocations of my hip, knees and shoulders, I had problems with my stomach, pain and migraines – all signals of my then-undiagnosed chronic illness.