At its core, COVID-19 deeply impacts the disability community – those who identify as disabled and those who are new to our community due to existing health conditions that place them in high risk categories and/or who acquire disabilities after contracting COVID-19. Although the situation is changing quickly, you still have the right to live, work, and access your community free of discrimination. This means that information should be distributed, and that you have the right to request reasonable accommodations from various agencies.

DRW is here to advocate for our community. We continue to respond to calls and letters from individual’s seeking information about rights and self-advocacy skills through our Technical Assistance (TA) Services.  You can reach us by:

  • Mail at 315 5th Avenue S, Suite 850, Seattle, WA 98104
  • Phone at (206) 324-1521 or (800) 562-2702
    • During our updated hours: 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
    • Language interpreters are available via LanguageLine Solutions. Please use 711 for Washington Relay Service (TTY). Collect calls from correctional facilities are accepted.

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DRW COVID-19 Related Advocacy

DRW’s response to COVID-19 is just beginning.  We are actively addressing and responding to the new issues that emerge each day.  Highlights of our COVID-19 related advocacy follow.

Education Advocacy

  • 7/9/20 – DRW sent a letter to Governor Inslee and David Schumacher, Director of the Office of Financial Management (OFM) expressing our deep concern that they are unlawfully withholding Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds allocated through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and demanding that they release these funds to Washington’s State Educational Agency (SEA), the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Click here to read the full letter.
  • 5/18/20 – In a letter sent to Governor Inslee on May 18th, DRW and advocates’ raised concerns about the disparate impact and potential non-compensable harm to marginalized students during the COVID-19 school facility closures. Read more here.
  • 3/19/20 – DRW, the Northwest Justice Project, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington sent a letter requesting the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Governor address the sudden loss of essential education services for students with disabilities. More information can be found here.

Jail and Prison Advocacy (AVID)

  • 4/22/20 – Tomorrow, April 23, 2020,  at 9 am there will be oral argument before the Washington State Supreme Court in Colvin v. Inslee, the lawsuit brought by Columbia Legal Services, demanding an immediate reduction in the prison population due to the risk posed by COVID-19. Today, DRW submitted an amicus brief in support of the litigation. More info. can be found here.
  • 4/6/20 – This weekend, the first incarcerated individual in a Washington prison tested positive for COVID-19. Tell the Governor to protect individuals in our prisons and jails and keep all Washingtonians safe. Take action now.
  • 3/30/20 – The AVID Program and the ACLU of Washington sent a letter to Washington State Supreme Court Chief Justice, Debra L. Stephens, informing the Court that a proposed Executive Order was sent to Governor Inslee and urging the Court to respond to the COVID-19 public health crisis by taking action related to the operation of criminal courtrooms and pretrial release of criminal defendants.
  • 3/27/20 – The AVID Program and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington sent a letter to Governor Inslee requesting that he consider issuing an enclosed draft executive order that addresses the rising risks of COVID-19 in our correctional facilities.
  • 3/17/20 – The AVID Program also joined the WACDL/WDA COVID-19 Taskforce to issue a letter to the Washington State Supreme Court, calling for full closure of the courts in light of the risks posed to all participants in the court system, including defendants, attorneys, and court personnel. The Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys joined with that Taskforce and submitted an Agreed Proposed Order to the Court, which was subsequently amended and issued by the Court.
  • 3/16/20 – DRW’s AVID Program worked with other legal services organizations, community partners, and family members of incarcerated people to issue letters calling on the Washington State Department of CorrectionsGovernor Inslee, and local jails (Spokane County Jail & King County Jail) to take urgent and bold action to prevent the imminent spread of COVID-19 in our prisons and jails.

Rooted in Rights Projects

  • 4/7/20 – DRW and Rooted in Rights joined with coalition partners to ask Seattle to ensure people without access to a car or who are unable to drive have access to drive-thru only restaurants, by signing onto a letter sent to Mayor Jenny Durkan and Members of Seattle’s City Council. 
  • 3/10/20 (series beginning) – Blog series covering perspectives from disabled and chronically ill people regarding COVID-19.

Treatment Facilities

  • 4/2/20 – DRW, the ACLU, WDA, and WACDL sent a letter to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), requesting that DSHS immediately undertake efforts to reduce the patient population at both Western State Hospital and Eastern State Hospital. More info can be found here.

U.S. Dept of Human & Health Services Office of Civil Rights Complaint

  • 3/23/20 – DRW, SAIL, and The Arc filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (OCR) about their grave concerns that the plans being put in place discriminate against people with disabilities in violation of federal disability rights laws and place their lives at serious risk. More information can be found here.
    • First enforcement action taken by OCR:
      • 4/8/20 – OCR is announcing that it has resolved a compliance review of the State of Alabama after the state removed ventilator rationing guidelines that allegedly discriminated on the basis of disability and age. Read more here.

COVID-19 Resources

Information Resources for People with Disabilities

General Information

  • Washington State Department of Health (DOH)
    • COVID-19 Webpage
    • For more general information: The Washington State Department of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington, or how the virus is spread, please call 1-800-525-0127. Phone lines are currently staffed from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m, seven days a week. Please note that this call center cannot access COVID-19 testing results. For testing inquiries or results, please contact your health care provider.
  • Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS)

Education

  • Special Education for K-12 Students – Let us know about your family’s situation. We’ve set up remotely from our homes to keep advocating for people with disabilities, so you can contact us at 1-800-562-2702 to request an appointment for Technical Assistance.

Food and Other Essential Needs

Many people may face extra barriers to getting food and other essential needs during this time, we will continue to update this list as we find more resources or more resources become available.

  • King County
    • A list of some available resources can be found here.
    • King County Metro has recently reduced its fixed-route service. Customers with disabilities who are no longer able to reach their essential destinations using fixed-route service can contact the Access Transportation Call Center at 206-205-5000 for assistance with both emergent and ongoing essential transportation needs.
    • Free walk-up COVID-19 testing is available for people with symptoms of COVID-19 who are at highest risk for severe illness from the disease and don’t have regular access to health care.
      • Where and when: Downtown Public Health Center at 2124 4th Ave in Seattle. No appointment needed. Walk up hours are Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Pierce County
    • A list of some available resources can be found here.
  • Thurston County
    • Information about the Thurston County COVID-19 Community Response fund can be found here.
  • Snohomish County
    • A list of some available resources can be found here.
  • Spokane County
    • A list of some available resources can be found here

We will continue to update this list to include more counties throughout Washington. If your county is not listed, you can call 2-1-1 to find out what resources are available in your area.

You can also locate the website for your local United Way, here.