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Capitol Correspondence - 02.28.22

Administration Announces New Actions to Address the Needs of People with Disabilities and Older Adults in Response to and Recovery from COVID-⁠19

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On Thursday, the Biden administration announced a new plan to address the needs of people with disabilities and older adults in response to and in recovery from COVID-19. The announcement stated that the Administration will be taking key steps to ensure that people with disabilities “have equitable access to COVID-19 testing, masks, and other critical mitigation strategies.” The action plan will focus on:

  • Equipping schools with guidance and support to ensure schools can provide safe, in-person instruction for all students.
  • Expanding the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Community Living’s Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) to support people with disabilities who need assistance using at-home tests or in finding alternative tests. The DIAL line is available at 1-888-677-1199.
  • Improving COVID-19 testing guidance through updating CDC guidance in American Sign Language and reviewing all existing COVID-19 guidance to ensure accessibility, including adding information in Braille, ASL translation, simplified text, and other alternative formats.
  • Developing at-home COVID-19 tests that are accessible to all through a partnership with the National Institutes of Health and organizations representing communities in need of accessible tests.
  • Issuing a formal Request for Information (RFI) to incentivize domestic manufacturers to prioritize the accessibility of at-home tests for people with disabilities and those individuals who need non-English language or literacy support. 
  • Requesting accessible instructions from test manufacturers who have received a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to ensure instructions are accessible and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Distributing masks to individuals with disabilities. HHS is partnering with community health centers and rural health clinics to ensure individuals with disabilities and those unable to leave their homes have access to free, high-quality N95 masks. The Administration is also calling on states and territories to work in partnership with community-based health centers to distribute masks.