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People With Disabilities Must Be Part Of The Covid-19 Response Team
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People With Disabilities Must Be Part Of The Covid-19 Response Team

As the world is learning, Covid-19 response is a marathon, not a sprint.

Moving into the second phase of this crisis, in addition to continuing our fight for access to protective gear, medical equity, and food, the disability community is expanding advocacy to prevent 7 million students with disabilities from being denied access to education. Once schools reopen, many children with underlying medical conditions will need to remain safely at home. It is vital for them to have access to a full curriculum, just like anyone else. Education funders are urgently needed to fight for appropriate and accessible online education and support.

In the weeks ahead, there will be a major battle for the next round of federal funding to address the pandemic. It will be vital for state and local governments to get the money they need to enable home- and community-based support for people with disabilities to live as independently as possible.

As communities, nonprofits, and employers adapt, people with disabilities risk being pushed further into the margins. This largely happens unintentionally, as well-meaning people and groups create more barriers to inclusion and success.

A major study conducted before the pandemic showed that less than 20 percent of nonprofits and funders are fully accessible to people with disabilities. That is why, in conjunction with 18 philanthropy-serving and nonprofit organizations, RespectAbility, offers free online training on how to include people with disabilities in the Covid-19 response team. More than 700 leaders already have completed the full free program, and readers are encouraged to do so, too.

It is vital for people with disabilities to bring their experience, skills, and innovations forward to help solve the challenges that affect all of us. From climate-change activist Greta Thunberg, who is autistic, to others who are on the forefront of positive change, people with disabilities have a lot to contribute.

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