Embedded

Approximately one in four individuals in the United States live with some form of disability. People living with disabilities face frequent barriers to activities of daily life, and disasters and emergencies often make things even more difficult. The COVID-19 pandemic has both created and spotlighted many barriers to health equity for people living with disabilities. To protect the rights and health of people with disabilities, preparedness planning efforts should be intentional and inclusive.

Through a CDC-funded cooperative agreement, ASTHO developed a program to support disability inclusion within state and territorial health agencies. ASTHO's Addressing the Needs of People with Disabilities in COVID-19 Preparedness Planning, Mitigation, and Recovery Efforts in U.S. State, Territorial, City, and County Health Jurisdictions, closes inclusivity gaps for people living with disabilities during emergency preparedness and response efforts.

Since January 2021, ASTHO embedded 18 disability and preparedness specialists in state and territorial health agencies to voice the needs of people living with disabilities in COVID-19 and broader emergency preparedness planning. Jurisdictions were selected based on disability prevalence, poverty rate, racial demographics, COVID-19 burden, and COVID-19 vaccination rates. Specialists work directly within jurisdictions’ health agency. What's more, the specialists advocate for people with disabilities, identify existing disability inclusion gaps in the health agency, develop improvement plans to address emerging needs, and participate in an ASTHO-hosted learning community for professional development and knowledge dissemination.

ASTHO’s Embedded series spotlights disability and preparedness specialist stories and insights.

Title card for video a interview with 5 Embedded specialists
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Embedded: Reflections from Disability and Preparedness Specialists

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Young boy with a cochlear implant signing to an adult, who is signing back
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Embedded: COVID-19 Vaccination and the d/Deaf Community

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Partnering with the Autism Community on Inclusive Emergency Preparedness

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Embedded: Meeting Needs for Disability-Inclusive Emergency Preparedness in South Carolina

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Female caretaker sitting next to a boy with disabilities in a wheelchair
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Embedded: Delaware Stands Up a Functional Assessment Service Team

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Icons related to emergency preparedness in front of a healthcare worker, who is about to push one of them, as if on a tablet screen
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Embedded: Puerto Rico’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness Academy

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Stories of Inclusion: One Year of Lessons Learned from Disability and Preparedness Specialists

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Title card for ASTHO's Accessibility and COVID-19 video series
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Video Series: Breaking Barriers to Help People Living With Disabilities Get Vaccinated

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Tornado storm cell in a rural field
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Embedded: When Disaster Strikes for People Living With Disabilities

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Embedded: One Year Review of Disability and Preparedness Specialists Project

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Reducing Vaccine Hesitancy for People Living With Disabilities

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Strategies for Vaccinating People Who Are Homebased

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