Center for Dignity in Healthcare fact sheet

Safeguard Against Disability Discrimination During COVID-19

Including individuals with disabilities in the COVID-19 response to ensure equitable care


  • Inform key medical personnel immediately that individuals with disabilities have equal rights to COVID-19 testing and treatment.
  • Make equitable decisions to ensure that allocation of COVID-19 resources, supplies, and care are not based on inaccurate assumptions about life with a disability.
  • Provide accommodations to make sure all individuals can access COVID-19 testing and treatment. This requirement includes accommodations for behavioral, intellectual, or physical disabilities that may impact someone’s ability to comply during testing and treatment.


■ When communicating with individuals with disabilities:

  • Talk directly to them.
  • Ask permission before speaking with their caregivers, if possible.
  • Ask the caregiver for assistance if you need help communicating with a patient.
  • Use plain language to tell individuals and caregivers about COVID-19 test results and anticipated procedures.
  • Keep in mind that you may have difficulty understanding the patient, however, in most cases they understand you.

■ Make these accommodations:

  • Allow a caregiver to go with a patient to ensure adequate support for decisionmaking and treatment.
  • Provide ramps and rooms with enough access for a wheelchair.
  • Provide qualified interpreter services for the deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Use prompts, such as picture cues, for those with limited use of verbal communication.
  • Provide the time needed for individuals to speak, respond, and understand.


This information is based on guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.