Archive for January, 2021

Pandemic strategy

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

published in the Republican February 2021

As President Biden takes office, one of his biggest challenges is to handle the COVID-19 pandemic.  His plan includes signing several executive orders, such as increasing access to vaccines and mask requirements in certain settings.

The White House is giving guidelines through the Centers for Disease Control to assist people with disabilities.  The focus will be providing assistance to immediate care facilities and community-based services.

Disability advocates have been asking for research on how COVID-19 is affecting people with disabilities.  They and the federal government feel that this research is needed to ensure that the needs of disabled people are met.

Another part of the plan is for the CDC to provide resources to help states reopen schools while providing information on how to meet the needs of students with disabilities.

As for vaccines, the CDC will establish new methods of ensuring that high-risk people will get the vaccine.  President Biden said, “We didn’t get into this mess overnight and it’s going to take months for us to turn things around.  But let me equally clear:  We will get through this.  We will defeat this pandemic.  Help is on the way.”  Many disability advocates are calling the plan a good first step.

New beginnings

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

published in the Republican January 2021

One of the first things President Joe Biden wants to tackle is the COVID-19 pandemic and economicalfallout.  His American rescue plan will include $1400 direct payments to many Americans in need and will also include funding for vaccines.  His plan will also reopen schools and provide support to state and local government.  Another part is to extend unemployment benefits and paid leave.

President Biden’s proposal will not disinclude anyone from receiving stimulus payments.  It also calls for eliminating subminimum wage.  He said, “We can do these bold, practical things now.  If we invest now, boldly, smartly and with an unwavering focus on American workers and families we will strengthen our economy, reduce inequity and put our nation’s long-term finances on a more sustainable course.”

Disability advocates are concerned about one area that was overlooked, which is Medicaid home and community-based services.  In the past, there has been a push for extra funding due to service providers having to struggle with higher costs resulting from the pandemic.

Hopefully in the coming months, we will see some positive changes to make everyday living to be easier for those struggling with the pandemic.

Martin Luther king

Monday, January 18th, 2021

published in the Republican January 2021

This week, we are honoring the work of Martin Luther King.  He is best known for civil rights and standing for equality.  His work has helped shape the disability rights movement.

Empowered by his work, many disability advocates joined the fight, which led to many advances in accessibility for disabled people.  For example, in 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed, which banned discrimination on the basis of race, color, natural origin, religion or gender.  However, it did not ban discrimination against the disabled.

Disability advocates worked to achieve the same legal protections for the disabled.  Due to stereotypesof disabled people being a burden, they were often segregated, such as being institutionalized.  Changes started in the 1960s, such as mass transit systems being required to include wheelchair lifts, buildings made accessible and children with disabilities were no longer excluded from public schools.

These strides in disability equality remind us of Dr. King’s words that, “Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”

Parents with disabilities rights

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

published in the Republican January 2021

Five years ago, the Department of Justice and Health and Human Services, in response to a complaint filed by a disabled mother, determined that the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families discriminated against a mother who has intellectual disabilities.  The department felt that due to her disability, her newborn should be removed and her parental rights be terminated.

Over time, complaints have been received from parents with other disabilities.  For example, the state denied reasonable modifications and failed to provide equal access to its services.  Under an agreementthat was reached in November, the Department of Children and Families “will not base decisions about removal of a child on stereotypes or generalizations about persons with disabilities, or on a parent’s disability, diagnosis or intelligence measures (e.g., IQ scores) alone.”  Furthermore, disabled parents must be permitted to receive the department’s services “unless the parent poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.”

Even though the Department of Children and Families is committed to the settlement, it denies all allegations of discrimination.  This is considered a landmark decision protecting the rights of parents with disabilities.