Sunday, May 17, 2020

We're Home but We Can Raise Our Voices: VOTE IN JUNE!

In the middle of this public health emergency, D.C. and Maryland will be holding primaries on June 2, and just a little later, on June 16, D.C. will hold a special election in Ward 2.  Voters are being encouraged to vote by mail – see for information on voting in D.C.  For those people who are receiving residential supports in D.C., I hope that provider agencies are getting the word to DSPs to provide direct assistance to people who want to vote.

Some additional materials that may be helpful:

-          This flyer from Disability Rights DC tells you everything you need to know about voting by mail or in person on June 2 (link is to my Google Drive and is safe):
-          Project ACTION! has also shared these documents:  DC request for absentee ballot ( and the DC voter registration form for those who have not yet registered:  For those voting in Maryland, Phyllis Holton has shared this: “Maryland is mailing out Absentee ballots to all registered Maryland residents…if you haven’t received one yet it should arrive this weekend.  If not,…I’ll try to help you get yours.”  You can reach Phyllis at
-          For those of you on Facebook, here are some nice resources from a new initiative, “We Vote Remote:” and

I just wrote about the fact that the disability community hasn’t been well represented in covid-19 handling and post-pandemic planning.  The best way to be heard is to VOTE!  So let’s do it!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Do People with Disabilities Fit into DC's Future?

DC disability advocates have been disappointed by the lack of representation on the mayor’s ReOpenDC advisory group (, which was to submit its report to her this week.  Based on information from DDS director Andy Reese during a focus group call last Saturday May 9, there were no clear plans to extend the advisory group beyond that time, and perhaps it’s just as well.  There wasn’t even representation by people with disabilities on the “Equity and Vulnerable Populations” committee, much less the other ReOpen committees addressing education, transportation and many other issues clearly affecting DC’s disabled residents.  In his regular community briefing today, however, Andy announced intentions to form a task force addressing concerns among the disability community about how to go about “reopening.”  This will be welcome, although it remains clear the mayor herself does not place a high priority on the concerns of our community.  We will need to use our time wisely to make our views heard clearly both now and when restrictions begin to be lifted on June 8 (

Budgets speak louder than words, in any case, and we will know on Monday how Mayor Bowser foresees dividing a pie that will be hundreds of thousands less than originally projected for fiscal year 2021.  It will be a busy week after that:
-          Tuesday, May 19, DC council hearings on the mayor’s budget, starting at 10:00 a.m.
-          Wednesday, May 20 at 2:00, a virtual briefing on the DDS budget (contact Charlisa Payne,
-          Friday, May 22, 9:00-3:00, community testimony on the DDS budget before the council’s human services committee (along with testimony on other departments the committee oversees)
-          Tuesday, May 26, 9:00, government testimony on the DDS budget (and other human services)

See the council calendar of hearings here:  To testify orally on May 22 (only the first 90 people to sign up will be accepted), contact the committee immediately (no later than Monday) at  They will let you know if you have a speaking slot or whether you will have to submit written testimony, which also will be part of the record.  Let the committee know that we won’t let our needs continue to be overlooked.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

DRDC and Quality Trust: Protect People Supported by DDS and Those Who Support Them

Over a week ago I had intended to share two important letters that were sent to the Bowser administration, by Disability Rights DC (DRDC) and Quality Trust.  My mind is so full nowadays, as I know yours is, and the whole thing just slipped my mind.  So here, a little late, are the letters, along with responses from Deputy Mayor Turnage.  Please note that the request by both organizations for creation of a crisis team to prevent and preempt the large number of cases arising among people receiving residential care has not been taken up by the administration, although the infection continues to affect this community far more significantly than the population at large.

The full text of the letter from DRDC is here:
and the response from Deputy Mayor Turnage is here:

The full text of the letter from QT is here:
and the response from Deputy Mayor Turnage is here:

(All of the above links take you to my [safe] Google Drive folder.)

As mentioned in my most recent blog post, testing for people receiving supports from DDS and for DSPs in provider agencies looms large as an issue requiring priority attention.  Reacting case by case is not the same as having a plan.  Yes, we know test availability remains limited, but it’s clear the DDA waiver is a petri dish in which the virus is easily traveling from person to person, so if this is not the answer, what is?  People we love are getting sick and dying at rates far above general levels across the city.  When is this going to be treated as the crisis it surely is?

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Disability Advocates: Let Mayor Bowser Hear from You on Covid-19 Measures

The most recent mayor’s order pertaining to the covid-19 crisis,, extended the public health emergency through May 15 and provided specific guidance with respect to vulnerable populations, some of which applies to people supported by the Department on Disability Services under the IDD waiver.  This page on the DDS website collects pertinent government information in one location: The DC government is now giving greater attention to how the coronavirus crisis is affecting residents with disabilities, but serious concerns remain.

First, as of two days ago, 135 people out of the 2396 people served under the DDS waiver have tested positive for covid-19 – up from 86 people just a week before, and 8 times the rate of the D.C. population as a whole.  Of those 135 testing positive, 17 people, or 12.6%, had died – 9 of these in intermediate care facilities (nursing home-type settings), 4 in supported living, and the other 4 in a mixture of other settings.  A worrisome aspect of this situation is that these cases are not due to people’s leaving their homes, but rather to the virus being brought to them in their homes by the same DSPs and other direct caregivers who provide the services they need.  Until the last couple of weeks, little was being done to track these sorts of transmissions.  As of May 1 though, we know that 109 provider staff have tested positive, with 4 deaths.  Although there are regular temperature checks and self-reporting of any virus symptoms, there does not seem to be any plan for testing of staff or other emergency measures to bring down these frightening numbers.

Second, the mayor has launched a task force to plan for a gradual reopening of the city (, but people with disabilities are not well represented on its twelve subcommittees.  A coalition of advocacy groups is writing to the mayor to convince her to remedy this situation by adding persons with disabilities to some of the subcommittees.  Hopefully this will bear fruit.  In addition, all of us need to take advantage of these opportunities for input:

-          Specific feedback on the ReOpenDC initiative:, and

-          A longer survey about how the city should go about reopening:

I encourage you to answer both of these, today, in order to ensure the voices of people with disabilities and their supporters are clearly a part of the mayor’s forward planning.