COVID 19 has impacted our lives in ways we never would have imagined merely months prior. There is no sector of our lives that this pandemic has not affected. It has also had its way of pulling apart and stretching the fabric of our society to further expose injustices and shine a light on areas where there is inequality.
For many of us, jobs were lost, and we remained homebound for months on end. Unemployment skyrocketed across the country and our robust economy sputtered and struggled to stay alive. The fear of getting sick and not being able to get treatment due to the overly strained hospitals and medical centers was suddenly, a very real possibility. It seemed as though overnight, our lives completely and drastically changed. Just a few weeks before, we were traveling, shopping, attending events, working, and visiting loved ones. Now, these aspects of our lives were completely out of our control and we were not able to do any of these things with no idea when that would change and go back to the way it once was.
Now I want you to take a moment and consider that this is how some people in our country have always lived before COVID ever came on to the scene. Almost 2 million Americans with disabilities never leave their homes due to barriers to community access that are completely out of their control. Over 85% of adults with disabilities are unemployed and the prospect of becoming hired is bleak at best. Gaining access to basic healthcare for people with disabilities is significantly more challenging than those without disabilities. People with disabilities are sometimes improperly treated or denied treatment altogether. It’s hard to imagine a group in our society that has been so marginalized and denied these basic rights that we once all take for granted.
My request to each reader, that although there will likely not ever be a time that we go back to “normal”, we will start to move forward with our lives. We will go back to work, visit our loved ones, and enjoy many of the activities that we were unable to do when the pandemic was out of control. Please remember our neighbors who have developmental disabilities. Remember their dignity and humanity. Their ability to contribute and make our communities stronger. Their rights as humans and citizens should mirror our own. When you are aware and conscious of inequality, you will start to notice opportunities in your lives to make a small change. When you add up many small changes, together, we can make a big change