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October 2021 Disability Task Force Meeting

On October 28th the Disability Task Force (DTF) met to discuss the disparate impact of COVID-19 on individuals with disabilities of color. Panel members shared their expertise and perspective about this important topic, and discussed recommendations for providers, advocates, and policy makers to address the growing inequities.

Panel members included:

  • Finn Gardiner, Communications Specialist at the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy, Brandeis University. Mr. Gardiner framed the discussion, focusing on inequities faced by individuals of color that existed before the pandemic that have been exacerbated by COVID-19.
  • Roxann Harvey, MA, BCBA, LABA, Chair, Boston Special Education Parent Advisory Council addressed the inequities and barriers based by students with disabilities and their families. Harvey discussed a wide range of issues such as:  the lack of effective communication and engagement with families and students, cultural and linguistic barriers, inability to access remote learning, and punitive responses such as contacting DCF when children were unable to attend school due to school bus transportation issues.   She also pointed out that more families are able to participate in the Boston SEPAC through Zoom.
  • Yahaira Lopez, Founder, Autism Sprinter- Lopez focused on effective strategies her organization implemented to address inequities faced by families of color, focusing on issues such as food security, provision of iPads, and access to mental health services.
  • Pam McKillop, Executive Co-Director of the Autism Alliance- Ms. McKillop discussed the successful strategies they develop to meet the needs of Portuguese-speaking families, including reaching out to individual families, providing an online support group, providing computers, food, and gift cards, and working with a BCBA to provide ABA services in their building while schools were closed.