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Corona 6: One for the Neighbours

By Richard Downes / 2022-09-16
Posted in

 

One for the Neighbours

My cockney bird
Says don’t snitch
Don’t grass
Connected to the firm
She’s got some gob
Got some brass

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This Is What Happens When Your Caregiver Gets COVID-19

By Brianna Albers / 2022-09-12
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When it comes to COVID-19, I’ve been pretty darn lucky.

I can count on one hand the number of people I know who haven’t gotten

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Corona 5: On The Island

By Richard Downes / 2022-09-08
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I am on week 2 of social isolation, extremely vulnerable (apparently) and shielded by the NHS. Philanderer Boris has offered to put his arms around

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Letter to HHS Office for Civil Rights on equitable COVID-19 recovery

By Dean Strauss / 2022-08-30
Posted in

These comments are available as a PDF here.

Melanie Fontes Rainer
Acting Director
Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
Department of Health and Human Services

Samuel Bagenstos
General Counsel

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Disregard for Disabled Lives in a Pandemic

By F.I. Goldhaber / 2022-08-11
Posted in

One aspect of the pandemic made life more accessible for those of us whose disabilities limit our ability to participate in cultural, educational, and employment opportunities. People with disabilities and those who are immunocompromised, parents who can’t afford childcare, folks for whom traveling endangers them, and many other groups benefited from the measures taken once the magnitude of COVID-19 became apparent in the U.S.

 

As events transitioned to virtual-only in 2020, many of those groups suddenly had access to concerts, classes, employment, and participation in decision-making by their local and state governments. Disabled journalists could cover events—including press conferences, trials, and other proceedings—without travel cost in time, money, or spoons. For two years, people with disabilities and other restrictions weren’t just being accommodated, we were included.

 

Those events didn’t switch to virtual because new tools suddenly became available. The tools, including technology, have been available for decades. In 1998, as Communications Manager for a Council of Governments, I coordinated venue logistics for a day-long program with 13 speakers. We used audio/visual equipment to mitigate a room design that would have prevented everyone from seeing and hearing the presentation. The only accommodations missing were an ASL interpreter, an internet connection, and a site to host streaming. The pandemic merely forced governments, individuals, and organizations to use what’s already available; they could no longer exclude people with disabilities and other limitations without excluding everyone else.

 

The pandemic is far from over. More than one million people are dead in the U.S. alone. That is .29 percent of the population—almost four times the rate of the entire world, which has lost .079 percent of the population. Hundreds more die every day. Tens of millions of children have lost a parent or other caregiver. An estimated 56 million U.S. residents potentially face permanent disability from Long COVID, more than 7.5 percent of the population. Transmission and case numbers are going up, although no government entity is accurately reporting the increases.

 

Despite this devastating reality, privileged people, who saw inclusion as an inconvenience, are actively working to take unprecedented accessibility away. Many believe that, because meeting in person is an option again, participation of those unable to attend should no longer be considered in logistical planning. While giving lip service to those unable to attend in-person—whether because of the pandemic or previously existing restrictions—priority has shifted to alleviating Zoom fatigue. In reality, allowing in-person events does not preclude offering interactive video/audio options to all who need or want them.

 

However, offering online options requires some cost regarding staffing and, depending on the venue, additional equipment. All levels of the U.S. government—once it was documented that the pandemic disproportionately impacts those already marginalized—have made it very clear that they give more weight to the prosperity of corporations than the lives of residents. This is exemplified by Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, applauding a disease that she erroneously believed only kills those with pre-existing conditions and disabilities. Most public officials have completely abandoned mitigation attempts. Given that, it’s not surprising that few organizations will make the effort or expend funds to maintain inclusivity. This serves to undergird the critical need for effective, compassionate government that prioritizes the needs of all people.

 

Those of us who are marginalized and familiar with history are only too aware that a strong contingent of people in the U.S. fights to return this country to the days of its founding. For too long, the freedom to pursue life, liberty, and happiness was extended only to property-owning white males. That contingent and their co-conspirators work diligently to eliminate any additional rights fought for since the Constitution was written.

 

As in all genocidal, supremacist projects, rights are being stripped from the most vulnerable first. They almost always start with racialized, queer, and disabled people, often including those disabled as a result of epidemics and pandemics. Nationalists and supremacists begin eliminating human rights strategically, with exclusion of oppressed people from voting, jobs, healthcare, and exercising their Constitutional rights. They also accelerate the exclusion of marginalized children from school, sports, and access to books and information. These exclusions are often presented in ways designed to seem innocuous to those who are not impacted and choose to remain oblivious to the suffering of others.

 

Today, those actively working to exclude disadvantaged populations from continued participation have myriad justifications for why full inclusion isn’t possible. However, they deliberately ignore how pandemic protocols eliminated many of those excuses. As events migrate away from online-only, rather than embracing hybrid options some organizations are working to further ostracize marginalized populations. Many are eliminating everything but in-person events; they won’t even make video recordings available to consume at a later time.

 

I would consider offering events with an option for real-time online access fully inclusive; providing recordings so people can watch later is the bare minimum accommodation. Providing neither option is irrefutably exclusionary. With millions of people newly disabled and more whose medical conditions preclude any exposure to COVID-19, at a minimum events should be recorded and made available online.

 

Inclusive planning may require significant effort and resources on the part of event organizers, but it’s very possible. I regularly participate in hybrid meetings via computer. I also have access to much more, including conferences with hundreds of attendees and numerous learning and networking opportunities all designed to include everyone.

 

While many people suffered from isolation brought about by pandemic protocols, others suddenly had access to entire worlds that once excluded them. Those who benefited from the ability to participate in once inaccessible events will not willingly forfeit the opportunities offered. It behooves planners to take into account accommodating those unable to attend events in person, especially as this group grows larger with millions disabled by Long COVID. Doing so not only reduces the possibility of ADA complaints, it also increases the pool of those available to contribute to their events’ goals.

 

For months, many institutions willingly employed the tools necessary to make events accessible to anyone who wanted to participate in them. There is no reason, except deliberate, systemic exclusion, to stop using those tools. Claims that the cost of accessibility is prohibitive or that they lack resources further demonstrates how little event organizers for governments and larger organizations care about listening to and including those with disabilities.

 

F.I. Goldhaber’s (they/them) words capture people, places, and politics with a photographer’s eye and a poet’s soul. Paper, plastic, electronic, and audio magazines, books, newspapers, calendars, broadsides, and street signs display their poetry, fiction, and essays. Left Fork Press will publish “What Color Is Your Privilege?”a collection of political statements in poetic formthis September. You can learn more about them on their website.

The post Disregard for Disabled Lives in a Pandemic appeared first on Rooted in Rights.

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Corona Virus Haikus

By Richard Downes / 2022-07-20
Posted in

Interesting to look back to two years ago. My poetic issues sequenced here, the arrival of a killer virus, the need to take and be

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Coexisting with COVID: Hybrid Work Spaces Elevate Work/Life Balance

By Emma Olson / 2022-07-14
Posted in

 

Neil Anderson

Director of Finance & Administration

nanderson@accessliving.org

(312) 640-2114

View bio Hybrid Work Spaces Elevate

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How a Community Becomes Like Family When We Need It Most

By Helen Baldwin / 2022-07-13
Posted in

As others set off fireworks on Independence Day, a Facebook post set off personal waterworks. It also determined the focus of this column.

Credit angel

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The Importance of Paradises in a World on Fire

By Sherry Toh / 2022-07-06
Posted in

A single lyric keeps ringing in my head from Fletcher’s latest single, “Her Body Is Bible.” It goes, “Hold on tight, when the world gets

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I’m Convinced COVID-19 Vaccines (and My Mum) Saved My Life

By Sherry Toh / 2022-06-22
Posted in

When my little brother and I were barely out of our toddler years, there was one question I’d constantly hear other parents ask my mum:

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