Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Guidance for People with Disabilities
The Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities (GCPD) has created this page to act as a warehouse for information related to the novel coronavirus and emergency guidance related to people with disabilities. If you believe you or a loved one may be sick, follow the guidance put out by the Department of State Health Service (DSHS). You can also dial 2-1-1 and select option 6.
State Agencies and Councils COVID-19 Pages
- Department of Family and Protective Services
- Department of State Health Services
- Texas Health and Human Services Commission
- Texas Council on Developmental Disabilities
- Texas Department of Emergency Management
- Texas Education Agency
- Texas Workforce Commission
- Commission on State Emergency Communications
The ADA and Face Mask Policies
The Great Plains ADA Center has created a frequently asked questions page to help clarify some of the questions surrounding the ADA, mask orders, and disability.
Rules for Everyone
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) recommends these simple, everyday actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds (long enough to sing “Happy Birthday” twice). Be sure to encourage friends and family to do the same;
- If no soap and water are available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Remember that soap and water are the gold standard;
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue (if you don’t have a tissue, sneeze into the crook of your elbow), then throw the tissue away. Wash your hands after!
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces like buttons, handles, knobs, and counters. Your cell phone is your “third hand,” be sure to sanitize it often.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
- Practice social distancing- this includes avoiding crowds and maintaining six feet of distance between you and others in public.
- DSHS has created a social media toolkit as well as other resources that you can use to spread the word on how to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
GCPD COVID-19 Webinars
HHSC and TEA COVID-19 Disability Policy Q&A, presented on April 17, 2020
COVID-19: Considerations for Individuals with Disabilities, presented on April 1, 2020
Tips for Successful Communication with People with Disabilities
It is imperative emergency management information be made accessible in order to integrate the needs of people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) requires emergency management information to be made accessible in order to integrate the needs of people with disabilities. Accessible information helps support the needs of the whole community, and makes sure no one is left without potentially lifesaving information. GCPD reminds broadcasters of the steps that need to be taken in order to make sure information is accessible, as well as the availability of the State of Texas Effective Communications toolkit.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released additional guidance on accessible televised emergency communication. Community situations such as pandemics are considered emergencies. Information about a current emergency that is intended to further the protection of life, health, safety, and property must be provided visually and aurally.
As colleges and universities have transitioned to digital learning platforms as part of a campus mitigation plan, GCPD reminds them of their legal responsibility to ensure access to curriculum and instruction for students with disabilities. This includes practical considerations, such as making sure instructional materials are captioned and making use of Video Remote Interpreting and Video Relay Services to provide interpreters in class.
The CDC and Department of Education have provided additional guidance on providing services to students with disabilities during COVID-19. By helping childcare programs, schools, and their partners understand how to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 within their communities and facilities, administrators can help flatten the curve. In addition to mitigation planning, this guidance includes considerations to help administrators plan for the continuity of teaching and learning. Finally, this guidance includes a decision tree to help schools and facilities determine which mitigation plan is best in three scenarios: all schools regardless of community spread, no community spread, and minimal to moderate or substantial community spread.
Governor Abbott has waived certain regulations in order to increase access to telemedicine and prevent unnecessary exposure via in-person doctor visits.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has issued guidance relating to certain Medicaid waivers, such as Home and Community-Based Service (HCS) and Texas Home Living (TxHmL). Similar to the guidance prohibiting non-essential visitors in nursing homes and other institutions, HHSC has mandated HCS and TxHmL providers prohibit visitation from non-essential personnel. Given that many group homes serve medically fragile individuals, it is necessary to take strong precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among this population.