There has been a lot of misinformation about COVID-19 and young people. It’s important to recognise that young people can contract and die from the disease. However, COVID19 is more likely to be fatal for older people and those with underlying health conditions. People living with disabilities are also at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19, and face increased barriers in accessing healthcare services, disruptions in needed services, and lack of access to public information and healthcare communication messages.
You can help protect those who are most vulnerable to the illness by staying at home wherever possible. This way you are less likely to spread the virus. It’s important to remember that you are capable of contracting and spreading the virus without necessarily showing symptoms.
Here’s a few useful resources that could also help you to help others.
It is also available as a poster. As older people are less likely to be online, you could think about putting up these posters on your front door, or in the hallways in your flat. Of course please consider the potential risks of leaving your home and consider wearing protective gear like gloves.
You can also hold governments and other decision makers accountable. You could advocate for the consideration of the following principles (identified by HelpAge International) as crucial in ensuring no-one is left behind by the pandemic response;
Uphold the principles of equality and non-discrimination
Make public health information accessible and relevant to all
Ensure equitable access to prevention and support in all settings
Provide equitable access to social protection and services
Recognise the risk to older people in conflict and displacement settings and provide support regardless of legal status
Explicitly allocate funding to those most at risk in all settings
Stand in solidarity with the international community
Build a fairer future for older people
People living with disabilities
Similarly you can help information about stopping the spread and staying safe in COVID19 to reach people with disabilities. This Facebook group Deaf in scrubs has lots of accessible and useful videos like the one below. Why not share them on social media?
The International Disability Alliance has shared the following key recommendations to support a disability-inclusive response to the COVID-19 crisis. Perhaps you could take some time to think where elements of these recommendations are not being fulfilled in your local community and take action by writing to your political representatives or members of WHO asking them to make the considerations below in their planning?
Persons with disabilities must receive information about infection mitigating tips, public restriction plans, and services offered in a diversity of accessible formats with use of accessible technologies;
Additional protective measures must be taken for people with certain types of impairment;
Rapid awareness-raising and training of personnel involved in the response is essential;
All preparedness and response plans must be inclusive of and accessible to women with disabilities;
No disability-based institutionalisation or abandonment is acceptable;
During quarantine, support services, personal assistance, physical and communication accessibility must be ensured;
Public restriction measures must consider persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others;
Persons with disabilities in need of health services due to COVID-19 cannot be deprioritized on the basis of their disability;
Representative organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) can and should play a key role in raising awareness of persons with disabilities and their families; and
OPDs can and should play a key role in advocating for disability-inclusive response to the COVID-19 crisis.
We must ensure that this crisis brings us together and continue to fight for a more equitable and just world for all. Taking these actions, staying informed and offering solidarity to vulnerable groups is a great way to do that.
Ben Lacey is a communications officer for Restless Development, and editor of the WeAreRestless blog. He loves writing and reading and spends his spare time performing as a spoken word poet around London.