The Salvation Army IS STILL PROVIDING EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE!
We are doing it all by phone with Misty at (620) 231-0415 x104.
DO NOT WAIT until the disconnect notice arrives in 3 months, and get it paid, now!
- by Andy Rausch and Joe Reinecker
These are challenging times for everyone. However, the coronavirus and how it's dealt with can cause unique challenges for those of us within the disability community. With this in mind, Matthew Dietz, a lawyer for the Disability Independence Group, has pinpointed a number of these challenges, as well as how you might approach them. As Dietz recently wrote, “There have been several stories regarding states rationing health care and denying people with disabilities needed medical treatment. While this is of utmost importance, most discrimination during this time will be as a result of inadequate planning without thought about the needs of persons with disabilities.”
With this in mind, we reached out to him to discuss this further. We asked him for some examples. “One example here where I am, in some areas, has been the testing areas,” he explains. “In order to get tested, you have to go to a centralized location and then wait in your car for a number of hours to be tested. The structure of that doesn't consider person with disabilities at all. Especially those who cannot get to these areas or who do not have the ability to drive. They are excluding a whole group of people just because of the way they structure the environment itself.”
Dietz says denial of programs and services has been a problem as well. In many areas, paratransit has been shut down, denying many people with disabilities the means to go out and buy essentials like food, healthcare, and medicine. “If paratransit drivers don't show up, or are afraid to show up, then many of the same programs and services that are available to folks that have their own vehicles or could get on public transportation would not be available to those who can't,” he says. “Here in Miami, where I am, the only service they are focusing on now for transportation is if you have a mandatory appointment that you can't miss, such as chemotherapy or dialysis. Other than those things, you really don't have access to paratransit.”
Dietz believes these oversights are the result of a lack of planning, as well as a lack of consideration regarding the limitations of people with disabilities. “That's most of it,” he says. “But then, when you bring it to their attention and they still don't do anything to address that, generally blaming it on a lack of resources, it's just an outward way to discriminate, essentially saying, 'You're just not worth it for us to put our resources into this.'”
If you are faced with one of the above situations, it is important to complain and ask for accommodations. If a public entity has structured things in a way that you cannot access their services, you can contact an ADA coordinator or a service coordinator at SKIL for assistance. Be safe out there, but stand up for your rights. If you need essentials to survive and the system is structured so that you (because of a disability) cannot access it, you must speak up.
I hope all of you have enjoyed some great April Fool’s Day jokes and laughter amid the tough times we are having with the Coronavirus pandemic. Laughter may still be the best medicine! :)
This week’s column is about being tough and staying in the fight during tough times. Please read it carefully and keep plowing forward with the fierce determination, grit and heart that I know you have.
People with disabilities, including many of our staff, all of our board of directors and many who work through SKIL as direct support workers, are tough folks. In fact, we’re some of the toughest people around! Historically, people with disabilities have been ignored, marginalized, overlooked, manipulated, heavily discriminated against and even killed…all because they had a disability. Even in my lifetime, we have had to live our lives in a world that sometimes just doesn’t understand us or want us around.
And we have survived.
Now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our entire world has changed, and in an unbelievably short time. We have begun to fight a different kind of enemy, a new virus that is attacking people throughout the globe. We’re struggling to deal with all of the changes coming at us in proverbial tidal waves, wondering if we will continue to survive.
I have good news. We have, and we will!
How will we do it? The same way we have always done it, with the absolute determination and never-say-die motivation we’ve had to accomplish other victories, including long, hard-fought battles like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is a wonderful example of ‘winning a fight’ to all people with disabilities. Look it up on your computer or phone and be inspired!
We don’t know yet what the end of the Coronavirus battle looks like. We don’t know how long it may last. But what we DO know is that, so far, we are winning—everyone who reads this column is alive and surviving. Please always remember to keep your common sense in this fight, taking necessary actions and precautions to stay safe and well. And especially--please always know that we love every single one of you. We will continue to serve you as best we can. Please contact us via phone, e-mail or fax if we can be of help.
I love you all,
SKIL Resource Center will be closed Friday, April 10th, in observance of Good Friday.
We encourage everyone to stay safe with good hygiene and social distancing. We are
all in this together and your compassion, service and efforts are very much appreciated in what you do
every day while we’re providing services and continue with business operations.
I hope all of you are staying safe and well amid the corona virus pandemic. For at least the next few weeks I will be visiting with you through this column, which will be posted every Friday on SKIL’s website. I am working from home, like some of our employees, and hope to return to SKIL soon.
I want to encourage all of you that we will get through this. We are strong, tough and resilient people who have survived other life hardships. We will survive this, too. Stay calm, think positive and channel your energy into doing helpful, productive things while self-isolating and taking care of yourselves.
Do you have a cluttered closet you have planned to clean out? Clean it out now, you have time. Do you have a book or magazine that you’ve been meaning to read but have put off? Read it now, you have time.
Does your house or apartment need a Spring cleaning, but you’ve been waiting to tackle it? Spring has arrived in all of its beauty, so tackle it now, you have time.
Sort through those clothes and other items you want to donate, sell or pitch, cook a favorite meal for yourself, pamper yourself a little and use this time at home wisely. Every day that we are given is a gift. I hope you will savor it, regardless. Find a reason to smile and laugh.