Messenger e-Newsletter

April 26, 2022

We're not at the finish line with COVID-19 yet, but we can get there! In this issue, we reflect on where we are in the pandemic as Americans with disabilities, and some action items to protect ourselves and our communities.

Plus, the Texas House and Senate have released their interim charges. Our advocacy team weighs in on what this means for Texans with disabilities in the 2023 Legislature.


COVID-19 and Texans with Disabilities

At the end of the day March 13, 2020, CTD staff left the office under the assumption we’d be closed the following week, maybe more. It’s been over two years now, and while some of us have returned to the office, others remain remote. We’re grateful to have this flexibility, because our individual circumstances regarding COVID-19 vary widely. Some of us are immuno-compromised, or live with someone who is, and are hesitant to increase our exposure. Others have struggled with attendant care, further complicated by the pandemic, which makes the logistics of going to the office (or anywhere) uncertain. Still others have struggled with their mental health being stuck at home.

Like everyone else, we want to get back to our work and lives, even if it means doing things a little differently than we did before the pandemic. But as people with disabilities and their friends and colleagues, we’ve had our own difficulties navigating these past two years.

Accessibility barriers with personal protective equipment (PPE), vaccine locations, and at-home tests are just a few tangible examples of what people with disabilities have encountered in COVID-19 response efforts. People who rely on attendant care and their attendants don’t always see eye to eye on the best safety measures, like whether to get vaccinated. This puts both parties in an uncomfortable situation, at best, and a deadly one in the worst cases.

In public discourse and policy, people with disabilities and older adults have been cast as acceptable collateral damage in the national response to COVID-19. A case in point: late last year, CTD joined a letter by the American Association of People with Disabilities to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who had remarked in an interview that it was “encouraging news” that it was patients who “were unwell to begin with” that were dying from COVID-19 at much higher rates. 150 disability organizations begged to differ with her definition of "encouraging." Fortunately, in this case, AAPD's work has resulted in an apology from Dr. Walensky and her commitment to deeper involvement with the disability community moving forward. View the original letter and follow up.

But that harmful rhetoric is still out there. Check out Emily Ladau’s list of articles by Americans with disabilities that explore many more ways people with disabilities have been overlooked or left behind in COVID-19 policy and practices.

The end in sight?

Right now, it feels like we’re entering a transition period. Many of us observe the general population already behaving as though we’re already done with COVID-19 (forgoing masks, attending large gatherings, just speaking about the pandemic in the past tense). Numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are going down all over Texas—but they’re not at zero. As we’ve seen (three times now), another surge could be just around the corner, with any number of variables we haven’t yet encountered or prepared for. Plus, for the reasons stated above, people with disabilities, the immuno-compromised, older adults, and other marginalized populations remain farther away from the finish line than the general population.

We’re feeling fear and pessimism at CTD, but here’s the thing. We’re not helpless, and neither are you. We can get to that finish line. As bad as this pandemic has been, it could have been worse—made more people sicker and took more people from us. We are where we are because so many of us have been taking actions to protect ourselves (and each other). The biggest example of this is that vaccinations have kept more people from getting worse infections—including folks who are unable to get the vaccine themselves because of their disabilities or conditions.

So, what can you do now?

Find the PPE and tests that work best for you, and stock up now, while demand is low. You can still get at-home tests delivered for free. Better to be prepared in case another surge is in our near future.

If you can, get vaccinated and boosted. If you need assistance tracking down an accessible vaccine clinic, or are having any issues with getting a vaccine, Disability Rights Texas may be able to help! Call their Vaccine Hotline at 1-800-880-8401 or send an email to for free assistance from a Vaccine Access Navigator.

If you have questions about COVID-19 or the vaccine, a number of Texas organizations representing people with disabilities have compiled the latest, most accurate information. Check out our partners’ extensive libraries of resources, FAQs, studies, and personal stories:

Note that these resources are a supplement to, not a substitute for guidance from a medical provider who knows you. Read a little more on why that's especially important for people with compromised immune systems.


Interim Charges

Both the House and Senate have released their interim charges for the 2023 legislative session.

What exactly are interim charges and why do we care? In short, they're a preview of the issues the Speaker and the Lieutenant Governor plan to prioritize in the next legislative session. The Texas Tribune's Ross Ramsey gives a great 5-minute overview with more detail and why interim charges or assignments are a critical part of the legislative process.

What does this all mean for Texans with disabilities? We'll have some opportunities to advance our issues in 2023—and we've got a heads up on the other issues that could take up all the air in the room (school choice is a strong contender right now).

On the House side, we recognized quite a few CTD priorities in Speaker Phelan's interim charges: the utilization of federal COVID-19 relief funds, juvenile justice and criminal justice, Medicaid, mental health, teacher recruitment and retention, post-secondary education and the workforce, long term services and supports, child care, and foster care. Our partners, Texans Care for Children, have more on how these interim charges will shape children's issues in 2023.

Over in the Senate, Lt. Governor Patrick's interim charges contained fewer items that will affect disability-related legislation, although education did make an appearance. We're concerned that in 2023, the Senate Education Committee will combine public and higher education legislation, which used to have their own committees. This means we'll have fewer opportunities to advocate for both public and higher ed priorities.

Stay tuned for developments and opportunities to take action as public hearings begin!


Coming up at CTD


APRIL 30, we'll be participating in the virtual ADAPT FUN *RUN for disability rights, going the distance... while keeping our distance!

CTD staff & members from our team have charted their own routes through Austin, which they will run the morning of April 30.

As usual, all proceeds from this event support CTD and ADAPT of Texas.


Bronze lion statue wears a red pirate head scarf and eye patch.


CTD's Pen 2 Paper creative writing contest, Art Spark Texas, and Malvern Books continue our monthly gathering online.

Join us on Zoom the first weekend of each month for poetry, music, stories, and more in a fun and supportive neighborhood space! Our MAY 1 featured artist is Houston-based poet and L&P mainstay, Birdman 313!

 RSVP for MAY 1


On a shelf stand twelve books by various Deaf authors.


The first ever Deaf Authors Book Festival (DABF) takes place in Austin MAY 6 & 7! This free event brings together contemporary authors who are deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC from across the United States.

Hosted by Texas School for the Deaf and Deaf Television Foundation with support from the National Association of the Deaf’s Deaf Culture & History Section.



Thank you to our Raise Your Voice! 2022 sponsors

Superior HealthPlan

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