Whether you live with a disability or not, and no matter your age, what we are all now going through together is unprecedented in our lifetimes. Never have we, as a country and planet, been called to drop everything and shutter our communities and homes—to separate from our friends, families and neighbors, our workplaces, churches, and schools—to save ourselves and our fellow citizens from an invisible, spreading danger “out there.”
We’re aware of the projections. We’ve learned about the curve. We are listening to our leaders and their medical advisors, and we are adapting our lives as best we can to mitigate and minimize adverse outcomes.
We, here at The Ability Center, are fully aware that people living with disabilities and people over 60—a vast majority of the people we serve—are two overlapping populations deemed “at risk” from potential complications of COVID-19. Like many of you, most of us here are compromised in one way or another. We, too, feel your fear.
We understand that the isolation we feel these days by choice and by necessity is something many of the people we serve have known all too well—maybe for a lifetime. Some of the people we serve, who depend on attendant support for help with independence, are unable to isolate by necessity. Their risk of exposure is exponentially greater, especially if their personal care attendant attends to others as well. It’s another “no-win” situation for an already compromised population.
We also know that for chair-users, especially those of us who push with our hands, going shopping is a “minefield”—the floors of stores are likely contaminated by those coughing or sneezing, hundreds of pairs of shoes, etc. No amount of mopping can keep up. If one were to roll on a contaminated floor, the potential is very high that it would transfer to one’s wheels, hands, sleeves, van or auto, and, most likely, home floor.
These are just a few of the disability-related issues this pandemic poses. Add to them all the other issues we are facing as a community—the “aloneness” of social distancing and self-quarantining, travel, need for food, health care, homeschooling, rent, bills, etc.—and folks are carrying pretty heavy loads.
Though our physical office is currently closed, we are still working. We are here to answer questions and provide information and resources.
Stay safe. Be well.
Dan Wilkins is Director of Special Projects for The Ability Center, abilitycenter.org.