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Act Now to Enable People Who Use SNAP (Food Stamps) to Get Food Delivered

Washington, D.C., May 7 – Since the start of the pandemic, 25 states have a taken a critical step to ensure that the people at the greatest risk from COVID-19 and who rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits can safely order groceries online – with 12 of them starting the process in recent weeks. The disability nonprofit RespectAbility congratulates leaders in twelve states that are now in the process for applying for a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that would allow SNAP recipients to use their benefits for online grocery delivery via Walmart or Amazon.

However, nineteen states have yet to act or publicly announce any plans to ensure their constituents can receive online grocery deliveries through SNAP. Instead, millions of people with and without disabilities have to risk exposure to COVID-19 or go hungry.

States that have yet to act include: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Virginia.

Map of the United States color coded by status of online SNAP. Green and allowed: AL, AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, ID, IA, KY, MO, NC, NE, NV, NY, OR, TX, TN, VT, WA, WV Yellow and waiting on approval: AR, GA, HI, LA, MD, MA, MN, NJ, OK, PA, WI, WY Red and no announcements: AK, CT, DE, IN, IL, KS, ME, MI, MS, MT, NH, NM, ND, OH, RI, SC, SD, UT, VA [continue reading…]

The American Sign Language word for COVID-19 mimics the virus' appearance, with fingers forming the spikes, or coronas, the virus is known for. Photo credit: NCDHHS.

The American Sign Language word for COVID-19 mimics the virus’ appearance, with fingers forming the spikes, or coronas, the virus is known for. Photo credit: NCDHHS.

Washington, D.C., May 6 – As the access needs for people with disabilities increase during COVID-19 communications, one program – being led by a person who is deaf himself – is providing a free hotline bringing the deaf community information on the pandemic in both American Sign Language and English. In order to help spread information and curb misinformation, a team of deaf agents fluent in ASL have been trained to provide information about coronavirus.

“Equal access to information for our community is a societal imperative each and every day, but especially right now as we all strive to cope with this health pandemic,” said Craig Radford, the Director of Strategy and Business Development for Connect Direct, which is behind the new hotline through Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD), the largest deaf-led social impact nonprofit in the United States. [continue reading…]

Characters with Disabilities More Likely to Be Rescued or Die, But Those in the Workforce Portrayed Positively in Family Films

Historic high for leading characters with disabilities. 8% of family films in 2019 featured a lead with a disabilityLos Angeles, California, May 4 – When it comes to showing people with disabilities on TV, they are almost never seen, and when they are, it is in a negative light, limiting opportunities for people with disabilities everywhere. However, a new study found the family film industry brings a continued historic high for leading characters with disabilities. In fact, eight percent of family films in both 2018 and 2019 featured a lead with a disability. This is jump up from just one percent from most of the last decade and shows that the increased representation is being sustained from one year to the next. While this number is still not representative of people with a disability in the U.S. – as one-in-five people in the U.S. live with a disability today, it is a step in the right direction.

“Media is one of the most immediate and impactful ways to influence our views on societal norms and has the power to eradicate intersectional gender inequality in our global cultures,” said Madeline Di Nonno, CEO of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. “If our audiences can see themselves positively portrayed onscreen, it can reinforce the message that they matter. And also, it can influence their long-term views throughout their lives.”

The study, See Jane 2020 Film, was conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and USC Viterbi School of Engineering. It evaluated the 100 top-grossing live action and animated family films (rated G, PG or PG-13) of 2019. These films included a total of 2,991 characters, including 122 leading/co-leading characters, 1,032 supporting characters and 1,837 minor characters. [continue reading…]

In 16 states, people with disabilities now can use SNAP to eat safely while other states leave people with disabilities at risk

Washington, D.C., May 1 – In 16 states, people with disabilities and other recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) no longer have to choose between risking exposure to COVID-19 or getting food from the grocery store. Thanks to an administrative change, millions of Americans now can access online grocery deliveries through Amazon Fresh and Walmart.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a simple action like going to the grocery store to put food on the table means potentially risking exposure to the coronavirus. This is especially the case for those who are blind or use wheelchairs or other mobility devices for whom maintaining six feet of distance may be impossible. The answer for many American households has been to turn to online grocery deliveries. For many of the 11 million Americans with disabilities who rely on SNAP for their basic nutrition, however, that option has been unavailable, leaving them to shop in person despite the higher risk they face. [continue reading…]

Andrea Dalzell wearing scrubs smiling.New York City, April 28 – Andrea Dalzell RN, BSN, was told that she would never be able to become a nurse due to her disability. Today, she is one of a few registered nurses who use a wheelchair. Currently she is working in one of the hardest hit areas of COVID-19 today – the New York metro area.

Dalzell is a disability advocate and represented her home state as Ms. Wheelchair New York in 2015. She studied biology and neuroscience in college while earning her associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in nursing. Dalzell was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis at the age of five and began using a wheelchair full-time at the age of 12.

Dalzell shares first-hand about her journey to becoming a nurse, why it’s important for people with disabilities to be in the medical industry, and advice for wheelchair users in the current climate of COVID-19. [continue reading…]

Ollie, Steven, Nick and Leo Cantos, along with Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, Calvin Harris and Vivian Bass at RespectAbility's 2018 SummitWashington, D.C., April 24 – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt everyday life for people around the world, three blind triplets have contracted the virus – showcasing the extra precautions people who are blind and have low vision must take during this time.

Nick, Steven and Leo were adopted by Ollie Cantos, who is a board member for RespectAbility and is also blind. The Cantos triplets were the first blind triplets to became Eagle Scouts, and their story went viral, being covered by ABC News and many local news outlets. Ollie, Nick, Steven and Leo also were featured speakers at RespectAbility’s 2018 Capitol Hill Summit.

Despite self-quarantining for more than a month after coming home from college, all three 20-year-old triplets contracted the virus because people they live with had to go in and out of the home. One of their roommates tracked in into the house without showing symptoms. The brothers, who had come from home college a month ago, were living in this house to avoid being in their dad’s home, where their grandmother, who is immunocompromised, lives. Leo has been hospitalized since Monday and Nick was admitted Thursday. Steven is able to remain quarantined at home. Ollie keeps the community updated through posts on his Facebook profile. [continue reading…]

Our friends over at The Walt Disney Company shared this interview with Erica Milsom, the director of Pixar’s Loop. Everything below – text and photos – is courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.

Erica Milsom headshot with her hand on her chin. Loop logo. Logos for Pixar and Disney +Throughout April, celebrations across the globe promote autism acceptance and ensure that autistic people are seen, heard and celebrated for their unique experiences of the world. This month, as we continue efforts to extend awareness, encourage acceptance and ignite change, get to know Erica Milsom, a Pixar employee and director of one of Pixar’s SparkShorts, “Loop,” now streaming on Disney+.

In “Loop,” two kids at canoe camp find themselves adrift on a lake, unable to move forward until they find a new way to connect and see the world through each other’s eyes. This film breaks new ground by featuring Pixar’s first non-verbal autistic character. [continue reading…]

Rockville, Maryland, April 22 – One of the political visionaries behind the Americans with Disabilities Act, former Congressman Steve Bartlett, visited a new cohort of RespectAbility Fellows to discuss vision of a different sort. Bartlett also is chairman of RespectAbility, a nonprofit that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.

“I challenge you to think about what you want your life to be like, feel like, and how you want it to be structured, ten years from today,” Rep. Bartlett said. “Then peel that back to ninety days. And if that’s how you want your life to be in the next ninety days, why would you spend any resources today that don’t take you to that purpose?”

And part of that purpose, he advised, should be to serve others by fighting against stigmas and helping people with disabilities find employment. They are challenges Bartlett met by co-sponsoring the ADA, and that the new RespectAbility Fellows have tried to meet over the past several months. [continue reading…]

Washington, D.C., April 17 – As more Americans with and without disabilities are caught up in the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are wondering where to find answers to life-or-death questions. In this How-To Guide, the RespectAbility team has compiled clear information about several key Economic Benefits to see you through these challenging times.

This guide includes the latest information and online resources about three key topics: accessing your CARES Act payment, accessing food resources and understanding unemployment insurance.  [continue reading…]

CDC reports that approximately 90% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 have underlying conditions

Los Angeles, Califonia, April 15 – As the CDC reports that approximately 90% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 have underlying conditions, the nonprofit disability organization RespectAbility is inviting people with disabilities to share experiences and organize online.

Said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility, “People with disabilities are disproportionally impacted by both the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. People with disabilities urgently need to be there for each other and to organize so leaders understand our lives and future are at stake.”

RespectAbility is inviting people with disabilities from across America to join in a series of Zoom gatherings. The purpose of the gatherings is for individuals to share experiences, brainstorm ideas, prioritize issues and bring solutions forward to decision makers and service providers. RespectAbility’s virtual events include separate sessions for people who are blind, use wheelchairs, are young adults with disabilities, have developmental disabilities, and for women with a variety of disabilities. Participants may choose one or more sessions to attend. Additional sessions will be added later. [continue reading…]

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