Answered Questions: Monthly News for the Disability Community for December 2020 – COVID-19 Resources for People with Disabilities

Answered Questions is a monthly resource for the Spanish language Disability Community that fills an information need. This month’s question is: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone. Are there resources and information related to COVID-19 specific to the needs of people with disabilities? This edition of Answered Questions includes items that share resources and publications from the NIDILRR grantee community; discuss racial, economic, and health inequality and COVID-19 infection; a study on mHealth apps; Down syndrome and COVID-19; mental health and social distancing; human rights during the pandemic; inclusion of people with disabilities in the response to COVID-19; and more. More about Answered Questions.

NIDILRR-Funded Projects:

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, many members of the NIDILRR (in English) grantee community mobilized and responded by publishing, presenting, or curating resources to support the continued independence and participation of people with disabilities, their families, and the professionals who work with them. The factsheets, webinars, and articles cover a variety of topics including accommodation problems and solutions associated with telework and reopening/returning-to-work, the strain on healthcare in rural areas and how that affects people with disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and COVID-19, the impact of COVID-19 on people with burn injuries, and more. NARIC’s librarians and information specialists are actively collecting these resources as they are published and make them available in NARIC’s blog post #COVID-19 Resources from the NIDILRR Grantee Community, available in English and Spanish.

From the NARIC Collection:

The article, Racial, economic, and health inequality and COVID-19 infection in the United States (in English), discusses a study that explored the associations of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) with respect to race, health, and economic inequality in the United States. Researchers examined the associations between COVID-19 infection and mortality rates and demographic, socioeconomic, and mobility variables from 369 counties from the seven most affected states: Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Louisiana, and Massachusetts. The results indicated that the risk factors for infection and mortality are different. Researchers also found that the lower rate of infection, but a higher death rate in counties with higher poverty and disability could be due to lower levels of mobility, but a higher rate of comorbidities and healthcare access.

Research In Focus:

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people with and without disabilities have begun using mobile health (mHealth) apps more frequently. These apps may include exercise or fitness apps, nutrition trackers, apps for meditation and stress relief, and they may present a convenient, affordable way for people with disabilities to manage their own wellness. The article, People with Disabilities Describe Features of Mobile Health Apps That Would Increase Accessibility, describes a recent study from the NIDILRR-funded LiveWell RERC – Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Community Living, Health, and Function (in English) where researchers asked people with disabilities whether they used mHealth apps and which types of mHealth apps they used. The researchers found that about half of the people in the study reported using at least one mHealth app and that the most used app types were exercise/fitness apps and clinical apps to communicate with their healthcare providers. The researchers noted that popular mHealth apps may be utilized by people with a variety of disabilities; however, these apps may not be optimally accessible.


The article, Mara Dierssen: “We wanted to know if people with Down syndrome may be more vulnerable to COVID-19 or not” from Down España, discusses an interview with the neurobiologist and researcher Mara Diessen, PhD, where she discussed the latest research on COVID-19 and Down syndrome funded and conducted by the Scientific Society for Research on Down Syndrome T21RS (in English). Researchers wanted to find out if people with Down syndrome were more vulnerable to COVID-19 than the general population. The results of this international study found that people with Down syndrome have extra protection against the “hacking” process that the coronavirus performs in cells. However, the researchers also found that people with Down syndrome who have COVID-19 have symptoms similar to the general population and that people with Down syndrome over the age of 40 and men with Down syndrome are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.


The organization Plena Inclusión has published a guide, Training Guide for the Use of Technology in Teaching, to assist teachers, professors, and other instructors in the use of technological tools that help them teach their classes in a virtual environment in an equitable way and using that technology as a learning tool. The guide reviews the main difficulties of virtual teaching, makes recommendations to fix those difficulties, and proposes guidelines to create digital content that is accessible to students with and without disabilities. The guide also provides resources to improve teaching through technologies and a multitude of examples on how to put these resources into practice. Finally, the guide proposes solutions for accessible technological environments for students with special educational needs.

Social Isolation and Mental Health:

According to Fedeafes, the COVID-19 pandemic is having important health, social, economic, labor, and personal effects, which directly and significantly affect the mental health of the population, both of those people who already had a disability or previous health problem and those who are at risk of developing one. The article, Fedeafes warns about the importance of taking care of one’s mental health in times of social distancing from Confederación Salud Mental España, discusses Fedeafes’ awareness campaign “Let’s save the distances. Don’t let social distancing isolate you.” The campaign aims to help avoid isolation and the psychological consequences that the current COVID-19 pandemic can generate, such as anxiety and depression, in people with and without disabilities. The article also discusses Fedeafes’ offer to help and support people with disabilities, their families, and the general population who are going through social isolation and are experiencing the associated psychological consequences, with all the necessary security measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.


The article, The Spanish Advocacy Foundation Launches a Decalogue for the Protection of Human Rights in a Pandemic from CERMI, discusses a document published by the Spanish Advocacy Foundation that addresses the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations such as older adults and people with disabilities and the challenges that they now face in terms of health care, cooperation, and their environment. This document discusses how older adults and people with disabilities face violation and neglect of their rights during emergencies, disasters, and pandemics and how this requires a vigorous response from the legal system and governments. The document also discusses how non-discrimination in access to vital services and the incorporation of universal accessibility in all messages and communication from the authorities are essential to the health and safety of older adults and people with disabilities.


The United Nations has published a document, Policy Brief: A Response to COVID-19 Inclusive of Disability (PDF), that discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities, revealing the extent of the exclusion of people with disabilities, and highlighting that it is essential to work on the inclusion of people with disabilities. This policy brief also sets out the main actions and recommendations to make a COVID-19 response and recovery disability inclusive. Although the brief contains specific recommendations for key sectors, the report defines four general areas of action that are applicable to all sectors.


  • The Southeast ADA Regional Center has created a website,, that provides COVID-19 resources in Spanish for people with disabilities, their families, and other stakeholders. These resources include information on the ADA, the latest news from federal agencies related to COVID-19, resources from the ADA National Network, and more.
  • Planeta Fácil provides resources, guides, infosheets, and more for people with disabilities and their loved ones on topics related to COVID-19. These resources include government regulations, guides on assistance during COVID-19, how to make group calls on WhatsApp, information on the symptoms of COVID-19, technology for people with intellectual disabilities, picture books on COVID-19, and more.
  • Plena Inclusión has created a YouTube channel, Webinars and Online Conversations about #Coronavirus, which covers various topics related to COVID-19. Topics include conversations with government officials in Spain, employment during the COVID-19 pandemic, day-to-day supports, the right to employment for people with disabilities during the pandemic, and more.

Further Research:




About Answered Questions Each month, we look through the searches on our blog and through the information requests made by our patrons who speak Spanish and pick a topic that fills the largest need. Each resource mentioned above is associated with this month’s information need. We search the various Spanish language news sources and feeds throughout the month to bring you these articles. Except for the NIDILRR Projects, From the NARIC Collection, and Further Investigation, all the linked articles and resources are in Spanish – any that are in English will be clearly marked.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
This entry was posted in Publications, Respuestas a las Preguntas, Spanish and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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