Capitol Correspondence - 03.24.20

ANCOR Signs onto Letters Asking for Movement on Disability Emergency Preparedness Bill in Light of COVID-19

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As part of its coalition work with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), ANCOR signed onto letters to two House committees urging for legislation that would address oversights that repeatedly occur in emergency responses, including during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The letters went to the House Education and Labor Committee, as well as the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and stated that:

“We have already witnessed repeated briefings about the spread of COVID-19 in which no American Sign Language interpreter or captioning is visible on screen so that people who are deaf or hard of hearing can be informed of the latest news about the illness and the actions they must take for their own safety and the safety of others. An individual who was evacuated from an affected cruise ship and quarantined on a military base wrote recently about the moldy, musty room in which her family was placed. If people with compromised immune systems or cardiopulmonary illnesses are placed in such circumstances, this could be damaging to their health. Some communities are exploring the purchase or possible lease of empty motels or hotels to house people in quarantine and isolation for exposure and treatment of coronavirus to free up space in hospitals. There is no indication whether those communities are going to ensure those facilities, programs and services are accessible to people with disabilities. Many people with disabilities depend on personal care attendants (PCAs) or prescription medications for which they may have only limited quantities. If they are unable to access these vital services and supports in a timely fashion, this could result in severe harm or even death for people with disabilities.

The Real Emergency Access for Aging and Disability Inclusion (REAADI) for Disasters Act, H.R. 3208, and S. 1755 would address and advance solutions for many of the problems we see arising in the response to COVID-19. Had this legislation been enacted, the National Commission on Aging, Disability and Disasters would be positioned to offer critical and timely guidance and direction to federal, state, tribal, territorial and local agencies responding to this public health emergency.”