Tracking the Impact of COVID-19 on Workers with Disabilities

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All of us have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in ways large and small. Many people we know have lost their jobs outright or they have been furloughed. Others are experiencing food insecurity and worrying about what comes next in the months ahead.
Several groups have made the effort to directly track the economic impact of the current pandemic and economic lockdown on workers with disabilities.

The results of those studies are shocking.

Global Disability Inclusion, the national disability inclusion and consulting firm, just completed a survey of workers with and without disabilities. They found that 38 percent of people with a disability were laid off, furloughed, or had to shut down their business due to COVID-19. Further, their survey shows that two-thirds of people with disabilities expect to experience “acute economic insecurity over the next 12 months.”

A monthly report published by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD), shows that nearly one million working-age people with disabilities lost their jobs. That represents a 20 percent reduction of the number of workers with disabilities in our nation’s economy.

When people lose their job or get furloughed, putting food on the table becomes a critical issue. For example, according to a new poll conducted by Democracy Corps on behalf of the Center for Voter Information, 81 percent of registered voters (84 percent of voters with disabilities) say they favor allowing people who use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to be able to order and pay for groceries and delivery online, so they don’t have to go into stores. Read more about the poll below.

Last month, California joined the ranks of states that now allow SNAP recipients with and without disabilities to use their benefits for online grocery deliveries through Amazon or Walmart.

RespectAbility’s team on both coasts is hard at work at these and other critical issues.

To take action on the food security issue, RespectAbility has launched a new campaign, #SNAPDeliverySavesLives, and tracks states as they apply for these USDA waivers at: https://www.respectability.org/SNAP. Read more about the campaign below.

For more information about RespectAbility’s advocacy work and COVID-19 resources, please visit: https://www.respectability.org/covid-19.

Respectfully,
Philip Kahn-Pauli
Policy and Practices Director, RespectAbility

New Poll Shows 81% of Registered Voters Support Allowing SNAP Users to Order Groceries Online for Delivery Using Food Stamps
Washington, D.C., May 13 – According to a new poll conducted by Democracy Corps on behalf of the Center for Voter Information, 81 percent of registered voters (84 percent of voters with disabilities) say they favor allowing people who use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to be able to order and pay for groceries and delivery online, so they don’t have to go into stores.

But 15 states have yet to ensure their high-risk residents can receive online grocery deliveries through SNAP (also known as food stamps), leading to millions of people with and without disabilities risking exposure to COVID-19 or going hungry. An additional 13 states 13 states have applied to the USDA and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. so that people with disabilities can use their food stamps to deliver groceries. However, they are in wait mode – living in fear and in need of safe access to food.

“Ensuring people can use SNAP to order food online to receive via delivery does not cost the government any more money,” said RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “It is heartening to see that this polling data showing that 81 percent of voters support this initiative is nonpartisan, with both Democrats and Republicans in support.”

Safe Voting Access

With the coronavirus spreading uncontrolled in parts of America, a majority of registered voters want to vote at home by mail, up from 47 to 51 percent. Fifty-seven percent of people with disabilities are in favor of voting from home. In addition, two-thirds of Americans are comfortable with reforms that allow no fault absentee voting, with everyone being automatically mailed an absentee ballot, and everybody voting by absentee ballot.

One issue with voting by mail is that it may leave out voters who are blind or who have low vision. Paper-only ballots violates the right for people who are blind or have low vision to vote privately, as they would need to enlist the help of a sighted person to read and fill out the ballot for them.

“Voting from home may be necessary during this pandemic,” said Ollie Cantos, Board Member of RespectAbility, who is blind and whose blind triplet sons currently are recovering from COVID-19. “If ballots are to be cast via mail, we also need to ensure the equal availability of electronic ballots, which historically have been used by members of the military, for all people who need them. Provided that such ballots are accessible, voters who are blind or who have low vision can utilize screen readers or screen magnification to read the text of an electronic ballot out loud to them so they can vote in private.”

The Disability Community

This poll found that 18 percent of voters identify as having a disability, including a physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health, chronic pain or another condition that is a barrier to everyday living.

Democracy Corps conducted this 2,000-sample web survey, April 27-May 3, on behalf of the nonprofit and nonpartisan Center for Voter Information (CVI) in 16 battleground states, the second of a series of tracking surveys on the pandemic.

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#SNAPDeliverySavesLives
#SNAPDeliverySavesLives
Act Now!
Online SNAP Before COVID-19 Pandemic
Map of the United States with only six states - WA OR NE IA AL and NY - in green showing they allowed SNAP online before COVID-19.
Status of Online SNAP as of May 12, 2020
Map of the USA color coded by status of online SNAP. Allowed - AL AZ CA CO DC FL ID IA KY MO NC NE NM NV NY OR RI TX TN VT WA WI WV. In progress - AR CT DE GA HI LA MD MA MN NJ OK PA WY. No announcements - AK IN IL KS ME MI MS MT NH ND OH SC SD UT VA.
Governors in 15 states (AK, IN, IL, KS, ME, MI, MS, MT, NH, ND, OH, SC, SD, UT, and VA) have not yet announced any plans to ensure their residents don’t have to risk their lives to get food. Those states are in red in the map above.

Thirteen states (AR, CT, DE, GA, HI, LA, MD, MA, MN, NJ, OK, PA, WY) have applied to the USDA and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., so people with disabilities can use their Food Stamps to deliver groceries. However, they are in wait mode – living in fear and in need of safe access to food. Those states are in yellow in the second map above.

The following states already now have been approved for online usage of SNAP/Food Stamps: AL, AZ, CA, CO, FL, ID, IA, KY, MO, NC, NE, NM, NV, NY, OR, RI, TX, TN, VT, WA, WI, WV and the District of Columbia. If you or a loved one are a person with a disability who uses SNAP, we hope you will use online food delivery so you can stay safe!

Act Now!

RespectAbility
HQ: 11333 Woodglen Drive, #102,
Rockville, MD 20852
West Coast: 350 S Bixel Street,
Los Angeles CA 90017
www.RespectAbility.org

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