BBC COVID-19 Interview Transcript

Interview 3/18/2020


> Marcie Roth: I think our greatest challenges have less to do with any characterization as being vulnerable and more to do with the fact that people are not recognizing that in fact one billion people across the globe have disabilities.
Our biggest challenges for Covid-19 are the fact that our needs to maintain our health are being completely overlooked.
We are particularly good at navigating challenging situations because we deal with them on a daily basis. We can be an asset rather than a liability.

>> There are people who say that it is one of the — undoubtedly maybe underemphasized parts of Covid-19, but nonetheless recognized parts, that inevitably people who have medical requirements, who don’t necessarily — aren’t necessarily suffering from Covid-19 are going to end up the worse for this, because, I mean, for example, people who have got cancer or other long-term medical conditions may end up, you know, falling by the wayside or their treatment is not being taken up in the way that is needed.
As regrettable as that is, is not what you’re saying sort of just similar for some disabled people rather than specific to disabled people.

>> Marcie Roth: As vital as it is, that we’re focusing on the immediate issues and how to assist everyone to be able to physically distance themselves. One of the things that we can do to flatten the curve, is to give people who need hands-on assistance, to give people who need information in accessible formats, like people who are Deaf who need information delivered in sign language, so that they can take personal protective measures.
There are so many things that we can do that are not especially complicated, that will really help to reduce the spread and give people the opportunity to be assets throughout the process.

>> Is one issue that it’s a little bit imprecise at the moment just who could be particularly vulnerable and what the advice is in terms of people with certain disabilities, should be doing in order to try to protect themselves.

>> Marcie Roth: We are concerned about people who are not getting information because the information is either too complex and we’re not getting people easy read here in the U.S., they have issued waivers to allow people to be placed directly into long-term care facilities from their home.

>> Is there potentially one upside out of this in that people as this sort of, this whole trend of self isolation of people working from home has gathered pace, that people are realizing that actually this sort of — the issues of accessibility of getting to a workplace, even though a lot of companies and corporations have made great strides in terms of access for disabled people that actually it is forcing people to think of more creative ways of working more inclusive ways of working, which could end up perhaps working in the long term to the benefit of disabled people.

>> Marcie Roth: The opportunities to hire people with disabilities and for us to be able to use technology for the work that we do, this — as we navigate through this pandemic, there will be a lot of learning and we hope to do a lot of teaching about what it takes to provide the strategies, to make this sort of workplace arrangement successful for many, many people who are ready and able to work.

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