CACL knows that the implications of COVID-19 for people with intellectual disabilities and their families are significant. Many of us are facing increased levels of anxiety. Personal isolation and “social distancing” may separate us from friends, family, regular health care, or support systems and services. Our carefully established routines for loved ones with a disability may be disrupted. These are not small issues, and we are committed to ensuring people with intellectual disabilities and their families have access to important information that is accessible.
CACL will be sharing disability-related resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic on this page, pulled together in one spot for families. We will be adding to it as trustworthy resources are developed. Let’s also be sure to stay connected to each other in new ways. When you find reliable information or practices that may help other families, share it! And to be sure we see it, use #COVIDdisability.
Trusted COVID-19 Information
Avoid speculation and rely only on information provided by public health authorities to make important decisions that affect your family and loved ones. Some trusted sources of information include:
Plain Language Information
- The Green Mountain Self-Advocates have developed a plain language guide for self-advocates and their support staff.
- Self-advocate COVID-19 guide and workbook, adapted from Opening Doors UK.
- Our friends at People First of Canada have developed a plain language information sheet for self-advocates, based on Public Health Canada’s recommendations.
- Surrey Place also has produced an Easy Read guide.
- Looking after your mental health during COVID-19 – a plain language guide by the Council for Intellectual Disability
COVID-19 and Discrimination
COVID-19 has potentially disproportionate impacts on vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities, Indigenous and racialized peoples, older people living alone or in institutions, and low-income communities. Many of these vulnerable groups are more likely to have limited access to safe and inclusive housing, childcare, transportation, and secure employment.
People with disabilities also have higher incidences of chronic or co-occurring health conditions. Discrimination, including harassment against any persons or communities related to COVID-19, is prohibited when it involves a ground under the Human Rights Code, in the areas of services, housing, and employment, among others.
- The Ontario Human Rights Commission has released an information resource on discrimination and COVID-19.
Information for Caregivers
- Healthcare Access Research and Developmental Disabilities (HCARDD) has helpful plain language and caregiver information on how to stay safe, well, and connected during the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as general information for people with developmental disabilities on accessing the healthcare system.
- The Ontario Caregiver Organization has information on precautions for caregivers and a tip sheet for caregiver mental health.
- The National Organization for FASD has developed a Stay At Home Guide for children with FASD that is a fun resource for all those whose daily routines may be disrupted.
- The Center for Disability Rights (USA) has prepared action steps for people with disabilities who use attendant services or support workers.
COVID-19 and Government Support
On March 18, 2020, the federal government announced a new set of economic measures to help Canadians during this challenging period. These measures, delivered as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, will provide support to Canadian workers and businesses; however, no specific measures have been announced for people with disabilities. This information is evolving and we will update as financial measures for people with disabilities and caregivers are confirmed.
COVID-19 and Mental Health
- We encourage you to look out for those around you and check in on someone if you notice significant attitude or behavioural shifts. If you do see significant changes and are worried about someone you love, Be There provides information on how to start a conversation and give support.
- The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has tips, coping strategies, and resources to manage mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Accessible Information on COVID-19
- The World Federation of the Deaf has information available in International Sign Language and other national Sign Languages.
- Canadian Assistive Technologies has put together a list of accessible platforms being offered free of charge during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Stay tuned and check back as we add more accessible resources and information from trustworthy sources for families and self-advocates. We invite you to share your finds with us online using #COVIDdisability.
Please note: As a national office with staff across the country, the CACL team already works largely in a virtual capacity. CACL is following the advice of Public Health Canada and has postponed in-person meetings and all travel, and staff with caregiver responsibilities are working flexible schedules to accommodate COVID-19 related closures. Our full operations continue, so please feel free to connect with us online or by phone.