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Capitol Correspondence - 03.31.20

Protecting the Communication Rights of Families and Individuals with Disabilities During the Outbreak

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As shared by CommunicationFIRST:

“CommunicationFIRST has prepared a COVID-19 Communication Rights Toolkit to assist people who are hospitalized due to COVID-19 in advocating for access to their necessary augmentative and alternative communication tools and supports. 

Many hospitals are preventing family members and other support people from staying with infected patients due to safety concerns. Without these trusted allies, we are likely to experience barriers to communicating our needs, preferences, and informed consent.

And, despite laws prohibiting disability discrimination in health care settings, our population is likely to be some of the first to be subject to “rationing” or “triage” policies, or denied the dignity of even being asked to consent to different treatment.

If you are a person (or a family member or support person of such a person) who requires communication supports even while healthy, we encourage you to take some time NOW to become familiar with your legal rights to access your necessary communication supports, prepare a personalized Communication Accommodations Request Form (the last page of the Toolkit), and prepare a to-go kit with a variety of communication tools that you might need if you are hospitalized and do not have direct access to the usual people who support your communication. 

Access the COVID-19 Communication Rights Toolkit here: https://communicationfirst.org/covid-19/

We are working to produce this toolkit in languages besides English. If you know of anyone who would like to volunteer to assist with translations, please let us know by emailing [email protected].”