The International Disability Alliance and the International Disability and Development Consortium have launched the COVID-19 Disability Campaign to call for the UN’s response to this pandemic to fully include people with disabilities.
Collectively representing 45 disability rights organisations, the campaign is shining a spotlight on the ways that people with disabilities are missing out on vital Covid-19 health and emergency information.
Disabled lives during COVID-19
Lack of concerted action from governments and health authorities is putting the lives of people with disabilities at greater risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC).
Describing the situation as a ‘hidden crisis’ for people with disabilities, the campaign has sent a letter to the UN and the World Health Organization calling on it to send a stronger message to governments that people with disabilities must be included in the measures to contain and treat COVID-19.
It has also asked the United Nations and its agencies to make their daily briefings and any supporting documents on COVID-19 fully accessible to persons with disabilities.
Why the campaign was launched
Ana Lucia Arellano, Chair of IDA says, “Life-saving information is not being made in accessible formats which are leaving huge swathes of the population in the dark.
“The UN has now committed to a number of changes to ensure its information is more consistently accessible. We believe this will show governments and international media outlets that inclusion is possible and indeed necessary to reach all audiences.”
Dominic Haslam, Chair of IDDC says, “We are hearing disturbing accounts about how people with disabilities are having to shoulder some of the worst effects of COVID-19.
“We believe the United Nations has shown incredible leadership throughout this crisis. We are asking the UN to urge governments to ensure an inclusive emergency response.”
It’s estimated that one billion people are living with a disability across the world, with 800 million of them currently living in developing countries.
How the UN responded
In a direct letter to the groups, UN Secretary-General António Guterres detailed plans which are already underway. These include key actions the UN has put to governments and a COVID19 Trust Fund which will support “the most at-risk populations, including persons with disabilities.”
“We face significant challenges – for example, the accessibility of our documents and online communications. There is an unevenness in our approach, and we must address these gaps in a systematic manner”, Guterres added.