#AdvocacyMatters: An Uphill Battle

February 19, 2021 / #AdvocacyMatters

At the core of our work is a dedication to meet and tackle biases where they exist, not simply where we assume they are. We have teams working to try to achieve equity for people with disabilities in an array of different areas, including education, employment, housing, and many others. Our team members work tirelessly to provide Ohioans with disabilities with the information and resources they need to self-advocate while also affecting change within our communities and power centers. A troubling new study is shedding light on just how deeply-rooted implicit biases may be within our system of healthcare against people with disabilities. In surveying more than 700 physicians, the study found more than 82% believed people with disabilities experienced a lesser quality of life than those without disabilities. Equally troubling, only 40% of these physicians believed they could provide an equal level of care to people with disabilities as they could to people without. These biases create yet another barrier between people with disabilities and equitable care.

While this new information helps quantify the issue at hand, understanding that these biases exist is nothing new. At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we advocated for further protections from the Ohio Department of Health. Through letters and virtual meetings, DRO worked hand in hand with our partners to advocate for a strong statement prohibiting categorical exclusion criteria based solely on diagnosis or condition in hospital rationing care protocols. We also insisted that the state’s guidance should warn against language in hospital protocols that prioritize “young” or “healthy” patients over those who are “older,” “sicker” or who tend to have disabilities. As the COVID-19 vaccine became available and rollout plans were formulated, we partnered with several organizations to ask Ohio Department of Health to ensure people who are at higher risk of infection and serious complications from COVID-19 have first priority in the state’s vaccination plan.

While this new data is disturbing, acknowledging how these biases permeate systems throughout our society brings us one step closer to overcoming them. With the ultimate goal of fostering a society of inclusion where the rights of the majority are enjoyed by all, the implicit biases that linger just below the veneer of our everyday lives will only be conquered through awareness… and because #AdvocacyMatters, we won’t stop bringing them to light.

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