Updated statement: protection of persons with disabilities in institutions, deafblind persons, freedom of persons with disabilities, – Disability inclusive response

We updated our “Open letter to leaders at the EU and in EU countries: COVID-19 – Disability inclusive response” with demands related to:

  • specific needs of deafblind people
  • Demands to ensure that measures of confinement and treatment do not overly restrict the freedom of persons with disabilities.
  • Demands to ensure protection of persons with disabilities in institutions

Ensure protection of persons with disabilities in institutions

Ensuring marginalised and isolated people are not left without essential goods, support and human contact

  • Authorities should take measures to drastically reduce the number of people in residential institutions and psychiatric units and institutions: it is not only an infringement on human rights, but they are also settings with higher likelihood of infection.
  • If residential and psychiatric institutions are not closed, authorities should urgently ensure that strict hygiene and prevention measures are guaranteed.

Ensuring that public health communication messages are respectful and non-discriminatory

  • Ensure that public health messages in accessible format reach persons with disabilities segregated in institutions (including psychiatric institutions).

Deafblind people

Making public health communication accessible

  • Special attention must be paid to the accessibility needs of deafblind people, as they will be very negatively impacted by social isolation measures – authorities must provide websites with plain text and sign language interpretation in larger size (as opposed to small windows on the corner of the image).

Support networks and assistive devices

  • Deafblind interpreters and support staff often need to be physically close to deafblind people– authorities must ensure they receive adequate physical protection equipment and that social isolation measures allow them to do their job.

Freedom of persons with disabilities

Accessible, inclusive, hygienic health services and other facilities

  • Persons with disabilities should not be segregated into separate facilities, where healthcare for COVID-19 is often of a lower standard.

Ensuring marginalised and isolated people are not left without essential goods, support and human contact

  • Put in place flexible mechanisms to authorise persons with disabilities to be able to leave their homes during mandatory quarantines, for short periods and in a safe way, when they experience particular difficulty with home confinement.
  • Forced seclusion, forced restraint, forced medication should not be used as methods to enforce isolation or other preventive measures.
  • Conduct community outreach activities to identify and rescue persons with disabilities deprived of their liberty or ill-treated at home or within communities and provide adequate support to them in a manner that respects their human rights.