Expert Sources: People with disabilities often forgotten during crisis

Are people with disabilities being left behind during the COVID-19 pandemic?

July 2020

Malcolm Lucard

Thibault Lauritzen

Health emergencies don’t hit everyone the same way. The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, is forcing people to distance themselves physically and to stay at home as much as possible. But those with physical disabilities can become particularly isolated and vulnerable. Helpers or support systems might no longer be available.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Dalal al Taji passes the time walking on the roof of her building. Going out on the street is risky, she says, for people who rely on the sense of touch to find their way around.

Protecting oneself from infection is more difficult and many people with disabilities face a higher risk due to pre-existing conditons. To make matters worse, critical health and prevention messages are not always shared in a way that people with visual, hearing or physical disabilities can receive them. “During emergencies, people with disabilities often get forgotten,” says Dalal al Taji, a professor and advocate for people with disabilities who lives and teaches in the Gaza Strip. In this episode of Expert Sources, al Taji explains the challenges faced by people who have disabilities and who live in conflict zones or other places impacted by crisis.

To ensure that people with disabilities get important messages about COVID-19, the Palestinian Red Crescent includes sign language interpreters in its videos about the pandemic.
To work, stay in touch and keep up on important news, people go online. The problem, she says, is that in many conflict zones, people with disabilities often don’t have reliable access to the internet, which faces even more pressure now due to the pandemic.



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