A Message to Disability Rights Ohio’s Supporters Regarding COVID-19

March 13, 2020

“Social distancing.” “Isolation.” “Self-quarantine.” “No visitors.” To most of us, these are new terms we are now dealing with during the COVID-19 crisis. As Disability Rights Ohio takes its own precautions to protect clients and our team, we reflect on how familiar some of these terms likely feel to the individuals we serve. Many people with disabilities are not fully integrated into their communities and are therefore isolated, not just due to a pandemic, but due to the lack of access to services.

One thing this pandemic has demonstrated, it is that the system is not set up for people with disabilities. What seems like “universal” advice, diligent and repeated handwashing, is often not so easy for those with physical disabilities because of a continuing lack of accessibility in many places. In other words, there continues to be little recognition that those with disabilities face many societal barriers, daily and during a crisis. The promises made 30 years ago in the American with Disabilities Act are yet to be realized. This is why DRO fights every day to uphold the rights of the ADA - lack of access can mean the difference between illness and health.

While we work to address the systemic issues, DRO will continue to advocate for its clients to ensure no one is left behind and all rights are upheld. DRO’s intake operations will continue during the coronavirus outbreak, especially as changes to public services, voting, and schools develop. DRO will still operate its voter hotline on Election Day from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the same number as the intake line. Information is listed below.

We are committed to accurate and consistent communication. To that end, we have developed a workgroup designed to research and pull together data and materials so that we can provide information and advice for people who contact us when their services or rights are compromised due to COVID-19.

We know that things are not business-as-usual. One state-required change is that DRO must postpone routine or non-emergency monitoring visits and investigations at state facilities until further notice. This is in line with the Governor’s orders to protect nursing homes, hospitals, and prison populations that may have special considerations that put them at higher risk. In addition, DRO is limiting in-person meetings and temporarily discontinuing walk-in intakes. Individuals can continue to contact us through phone or on our website.

The safety of our team and the clients we serve comes first. DRO’s policies will ensure that our clients receive only the highest standards of care in terms of both service and safety. On a daily basis, DRO will rely on updated guidance from the CDC, the Ohio Department of Health, and Governor DeWine to make informed choices about how to continue the important work we do daily.

As always, take care.

Disability Rights Ohio

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614-466-7264 or 1-800-282-9181 (Toll-free in Ohio only). Press 2 and leave a voicemail; we will return your call.

Fax: 614-644-1888
Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
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