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Coronavirus & Disabilities

April 7, 2020

By Guest Writer Shari Cooper

Empty Grocery Store ShelvesAs the epidemic of the Coronavirus has invaded the entire world, we’re left with a lot of uncertainties of what’s going to happen to life as we know it.

Everyone is scrambling trying to make sense of what’s going on while trying to make sure they have all the essentials to live. Every day, elected officials have been diligent in letting Ohioans and the world know what restrictions we’re going to be under, which includes the closing of many public places.

As a person with a disability, I’m also trying to make sense of what’s going on while making plans to maintain my safety and some independence until this horrific event ceases.

When an outbreak like this enters our lives as people with disabilities, life become much more difficult than usual. Many people with disabilities depend on others to assist with their daily functions in one way or another. The whole social distancing that’s in affects is the hardest for me. When you have a care attendant who works with you hands-on daily, there’s truly is no social distancing. Is this a dangerous situation? Perhaps, but what else can be done?

Another issue causing major stress to me and my peers during this trying time is trying to shop for the items we need. Have you been to the store? Things are scary. Water, bread, meat and other common grocery items can be hard to find. We all know transportation has been and continues to be a problem in the disability community. Now, we are forced to fight our way to purchase necessities once we get there, if there’s anything left.

Luckily, I have enough medicine to last me a while, but for those who don’t, how will they maintain? Standard medical procedures have been postponed and everywhere one could normally go to socialize or to get services is closed.

Will the Coronavirus lead to a major state of depression among people with disabilities? I’m hoping not. But unless practices and procedures are put in place, we may see many take on mental and emotional disabilities along with the disabilities they already have due to this dark time in the world.

Unforeseen circumstances are inevitable. There’s nothing anyone can do when an outbreak of this magnitude hits except hunker down and ride it out. This is a good time to read, catch up on movies you’ve not seen, play with your animals, journal, try a recipe and meditate. I’m sure life as we know it will return to shine again. Until then, I hope those who serve people have developed a system that will help us get through this and remain safe. Let’s come out of this happy and together.

How is COVID-19 affecting you?

The Adult Advocacy Centers are asking people with disabilities about the problems they’re facing during the coronavirus pandemic. Take the survey, and be sure to share it with others. Also, don’t forget, the Wish List project still needs your help.

Shari Cooper is a strong advocate for everyone who lives with a disability. In her position as Public Relations Assistant for Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley, Shari is the “blogger-in-chief.” She’s also a columnist for the Dayton Daily News Editorial pages and an award-winning speaker. This year, she served as the official emcee for DD Statehouse Advocacy Day, introducing advocates as well as the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, the Director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities and other speakers. She even gave a TED talk at TEDx Dayton in 2014 called “Are you OK with yourself?” But the role she cherishes most is that of disability awareness advocate.

Shari’s impact as an advocate is far-reaching. She has served on the Governor’s Council on People with Disabilities and on the Ohio Secretary of State’s Americans with Disabilities Council. In 2008, she was elected to the Board of Directors for the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities. She’s served on the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of The Disability Foundation.