How Can You Tell Someone is Smiling When You Can’t See Their Face?

A friend just sent an email asking for my advice. Subject line? “How do you recognize a smile when you can’t see the face?”a woman is with her guide dog and is wearing a mask over nose and mouth and a long coat

Starting May 1, 2020, Illinois residents are required to wear masks in any public situation where we are unable to keep a six-foot distance from others. My friend understands the necessity to wear masks, but it’s all bumming her out. “You know me,” she wrote. “When I’m out doing errands, I amuse myself by trying to amuse others.” What now? How will she know her jokes are funny if she can’t see people smiling?

Under normal circumstances (remember those?!) I can hear a smile in someone’s voice. That skill didn’t come automatically when I lost my sight. They didn’t teach us that at the rehabilitation center I was sent to after losing my sight, either. I had to figure it out on my own, and that took time.

I wasn’t blind long before discovering how much I’d relied on lip reading to communicate back when I could see. Lip-reading, and body language, too. You see a person look at you, maybe give you a nod, and start moving their lips? Odds are they are talking to you. Now, sometimes, I don’t have a clue.

Anyone seated on a stool next to me at a local diner would inevitably witness my difficulties in addressing the server. I hear one come near, they ask, “More coffee?” and I assume they are talking to me. If they’re not, and I respond? Awkward.

Ditto those times when a pharmacist, a bank teller, a post office clerk, a TSA employee, a ticket counter worker (actually, any circumstance where I have to stand in line) calls out, “you’re next.” After inadvertently cutting in line hundreds of times, I finally figured out to point at myself and ask, “Me?” before making a move.

And then there’s the time my husband Mike and I sat down at a bar we didn’t frequent much and I asked a bartender what they had on draft. Little did I know I was sitting smack dab in front of all the beer pulls. The bartender pointed at the pulls (I think) and said, “What are you, blind?”

Good guess.

But back to smiles. When I first started recording essays for NPR, radio pros there encouraged me to smile while talking on the radio. “A smile comes through even when you can’t see the person who is smiling,” they said. “Even if you are saying something that isn’t exactly funny, you should smile: it engages listeners.” After that I started hearing smiles on the radio. (For a good example of a radio announcer who smiles when reading announcements, ask your smartspeaker to “play WBEZ” in the afternoon and listen to our Chicago Public Radio All Things Considered host Melba Lara — she’s always smiling, and always engaging).

It wasn’t long before I could detect smiles in everyday life, too. When I’m not quite sure? I can always turn to Mike. “Does Emily have a pretty smile?” I might ask. “She always sounds like she’s smiling.”

With many states requiring masks in public now, voices are muffled, lip-reading is impossible, judging whether people are addressing us is more difficult. So how can my friend know someone is smiling without being able to see their face? With no evidence to the contrary, just picture they are.

 

DJ Mermaid’s COVID-19 Diary: “DJ in Isolation”

A young lady wearing glasses and a cloth face mask with flower printI am pleased to have 13-year-old guest blogger Anja Herrman back with us today. I got to know Anja very well when she was nine years old and learning at home during a casting program (casts on both legs from her hips down to her ankles). She was schooled at home for two months back then, and I was her at-home writing tutor. Many of her completed assignments were published as guest posts here on our Easterseals National blog, and you can read this post from 2016 to learn how and why she had all her posts back then published under the pen name DJ Mermaid. An 8th grader now, DJ Mermaid is a Disability Activist and goes by her real name.

DJ in Isolation: A Guest Blog about Coronavirus

by Anja Herrman

Hello everyone! Firstly, I hope everyone is staying safe and practicing social distancing measures. These times can be challenging and wacky but hang in there. We will all get through this together.

School, for one, is different, to say the least. Now, instead of trekking to school, I get to lie in bed and complete my assignments. Great, right? Well, five years ago when I spent months at home with my legs in casts, I wrote a DJ Mermaid post called A Day in My Fin, I am bringing back that old blog post idea and am showing you “A Day in my Fin”-Coronavirus Edition.

  • 8:00- Wake up, flip over and pick out a book to read for a while
  • 8:45- Finish book and eat breakfast. Usually, this is normally something really good since my mom is home all the time now and has hopped on the baking train-hard!
  • 9:00-9:45- This is school time. Usually, I am done pretty quickly since my school is adapting a “social emotional learning” approach during coronavirus
  • 10-11: I usually do a multitude of things during this time- go outside, play scooter basketball, do a puzzle with my mom- anything to take my mind off coronavirus
  • LUNCHTIME- Food is definitely the best part of my day. I am obsessed with Trader Joe’s line of frozen Indian dishes. They are amazing!
  • 1:00-3:00- Usually during this time I listen to an audiobook. I finally got an Audible membership, since they have made certain books free while schools are closed
  • 3:00-5:00- I play The Sims 4 during this time. The franchise is starting their #StayandPlay hashtag and I love the fact they are doing this during quarantine and giving me time to relax. Also PSA: The Sims is a life simulation game and it is a great way to virtually live out your life normally.
  • 5-8:30- We have dinner and have family time. Right now my whole family is watching Parks and Recreation together. Leslie Knope is super funny.

So, congratulations. you’ve made it through a day in my fin, quarantine edition!

 

Alicia’s COVID-19 Diary: The Importance of Mental Health

A picture of Alicia smiling, sitting on a couchThose of you who know me or follow me on social media know that after I graduated from college late in 2019, a friend of mine had coined the year we’re in now, 2020, as “the year of firsts.” The phrase had a nice ring to it, and it carried me through the rest of 2019 with a sense of hope for a better year: a clean slate, a fresh start, newfound hope and motivation. I had a lot to look forward to.

2020 started out great. I wrote a post in January about flying to Houston to visit a friend, spending a week in 70-degree weather, making new friends and being out and about for 12 or more enjoyable hours every day I was there.

Once back home, I looked into teaching iPhone and iPad classes at The Chicago Lighthouse (I had seen a class while I was in Houston and thought to myself, “I wouldn’t mind doing this every day”). With so many possibilities in front of me, I couldn’t foresee a downfall. There was so much excitement that it was hard to keep up.

I still remember jokingly telling a friend back then that life needed to slow down just so I could process everything. And I think the universe heard me. Life didn’t just slow down — it came to a screeching halt.

March 8, 2020, is the last time I was in a room, face-to-face, with a friend. I am writing this on April 17, which means it has been one month and nine days since the last time I enjoyed a real live conversation with a friend.

But who’s counting?

If you know me, this is not normal for me. I am an extrovert. I get energy from other people. I’m usually out once a week…at the very least.

At first, I looked at this quarantine as a silver lining, a chance to get back into my hobbies. I wanted to read more, and now I had all the time in the world. I couldn’t see my friends in person, but I was able to connect with them online more – even some I hadn’t been communicating with on a daily basis before.

And then there’s this: I am spending more time with family now. I am staying at home with my parents, but I haven’t seen my siblings in person in a month. We do virtual game nights, but it’s not the same.

My two favorite country artists, Kelsea Ballerini and Ingrid Andress, released their albums one week apart, so that’s all I listen to. Ingrid Andress’ album didn’t have as many new songs, and the songs she did have were a bit more sad. I had to be in the mood for it. Kelsea Ballerini‘s songs were more upbeat, so I listened to that more.

But after a while, my attempts at keeping a positive attitude started to fade. Some days are tough, I won’t deny that. I worry for my friends, especially my best friend who is a certified nursing assistant at an assisted living center — she is likely exposed to the COVID-19 virus every day. I miss getting coffee with friends, and I know I could call an Uber and do the Dunkin Donuts drive-through, but I hesitate to do that. What if the driver had a passenger who had symptoms and didn’t know it? Then the driver is exposed, and we would be exposed, too. My blind friends and I talk about this a lot.

Right now I was supposed to be working – or, at least, somewhere in the employment process. And remember what I said about Ingrid Andress being one of my two favorite country artists? I was supposed to be going to an Ingrid Andress concert with a friend, which would have been the first time in my life I would have been going to a concert without a family member along. Due to the coronavirus, that concert was postponed — a major disappointment in what was supposed to be my year of firsts. My friend from Houston was supposed to fly here. We were supposed to get a group together and go for lunch like we always do. We were supposed to go downtown and visit friends in Chicago.

When I start to get overwhelmed and caught up in everything I was supposed to be doing – everything I’d had to look forward to – I pull myself out of it as best I can.

One thing that helps? I do yoga with my mom every day. It took me a very long time to get into yoga. At first I did it because I knew my mom liked it when I joined her, but after a while I have really come to like it.

Truth is, long before the coronavirus — I mean, wayyyyy before this, like three years ago — I was in counseling, and when I opened up about anxiety, counselors would ask, “do you do yoga?” They’d tell me it’s a good hobby to take up, especially if you’re feeling anxious.

The next time I’m asked if I do yoga, I can honestly answer, “Yes!” More than ever, it’s important to do what you can for the sake of your mental health (for those of you reading this who are into yoga, my mom and I are subscribed to Yoga with Adriene).

I spend time outside when I can, either going for a walk with my parents or just sitting on the deck drinking coffee and listening to an audio book. I make lots and lots of phone calls and am constantly texting. I’m still in touch with my friends in Houston — we have a group text chain going on What’s App Messenger – and everyone is asking me when I’m coming back to visit again.

So what’s keeping me sane…and hopeful? Those simple pleasures. They really put things into perspective for me.

 

DeafBlind Community Speaks Out About COVID-19 Fears

Photo of Beth and her black Lab.

That’s me in my big red coat along with my Seeing Eye dog Luna in January, before we started sheltering in place.

I live on the seventh floor of a high rise in Chicago. These days I don a mask and disposable gloves any time I have to leave the apartment. When it’s time for me to take my Seeing Eye dog outside to “empty,” she knows to guide me through a long hallway right to the buttons. “Luna, sit!” I say, and she stays still as I put on my disposable plastic gloves and feel for the one that says “down.” When an elevator dings twice, I know it’s arrived and will be going down (one ding means up, two dings mean down). I point that way, command “forward!” and Luna leads me to the opening. “Anybody in here?” I ask. I’m not so sure our elevators here are even six feet wide, so if someone answers, I urge them to go ahead without us: I’m not pressed for time.

I’ve made a great discovery in the past four weeks: when wearing plastic disposable gloves, you can still feel the Braille dots in the elevator! Assuming bad guys are staying home during the pandemic, I am fearless when out with Luna after dark for her final “empty” of the day. Once outside, without being able to see, unless people talk — or walk — loudly, it can be difficult to judge what six feet is, but Luna and I do our best.

Read those last couple of paragraphs again and you’ll notice how heavily I rely on my sense of sound to navigate the world and keep myself –and others –safe: one ding from the elevator tells me it’s about to head up, two dings means it’s going down; if no one responds to my question at the elevator doors, I know it’s okay to enter; using footsteps, along with a little eavesdropping, to alert me where others are and allow me to do my best to keep a required six feet between us.

How would I accomplish all this if, in addition to being blind, I couldn’t hear? A Washington Post article called They are deaf and blind, and social distancing has now taken their ability to touch answers that question. The article addresses how important the sense of touch is to those of us who can’t see, and, especially, to those who are both deaf and blind. “The DeafBlind community includes people who have zero ability to see and hear, and those who have so little that they have been medically deemed deaf and blind,” the article explains. From there the reporter interviews individuals from all over the country who are DeafBlind to ask how they are faring during the unthinkable times we are living in now.

While I couldn’t relate to all of the experiences , some of the things people who are DeafBlind are going through do, dare I say, ring a bell:

  • Social distancing creating unique worries and exceptional challenges
  • Isolation forcing us to grow increasingly disconnected when, more than ever, we need to be aware of what’s happening around us
  • It being uncomfortable to rely on your sense of touch at a time when grabbing a doorknob or standing closer than six feet from a stranger carries risks.
  • The story pointed out a feeling many of us with disabilities have right now: the worry that hospitals facing scarce resources will decide not to save the lives of those of us with disabilities. Haben Girma, the author of a memoir titled Haben: The DeafBlind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law, was interviewed for the article and told the reporter that ”there is an ableist assumption that causes some people to think it’s better to be dead than disabled” and that, plus the worry that she might not be able to communicate with medical staff if she does end up hospitalized, is what keeps her up at night now.The story ends with a quote from an email message sent by Ali Goldberg, a DeafBlind student at Gallaudet University majoring in education who uses tactile sign language to communicate:

    In that email, he described feeling “afraid for the future.”
    He also expressed an appreciation for being able to talk about how social distancing is affecting him and a hope that it would help more people understand what the DeafBlind community is going through right now.
    The experiences of the DeafBlind community may be unique, but their concerns shouldn’t be theirs alone.
    “As a Deaf-Blind individual like myself, we are left out of everything going on around us,” he wrote. “Let’s get through this together.”

 

Celebrated Actors with Disabilities Team with Easterseals to Encourage Us All to #StayHomeSaveLives

Screenshots of celebrities from the Easterseals PSA Introducing our guest blogger for today – Mark Whitley, president & CEO of Easterseals Southern California.

Over the last few years, Easterseals Southern California has made a concerted effort to partner alongside the entertainment industry to advance disability representation and inclusion across film and TV. Because we believe quality storytelling – the compelling, authentic, honest and entertaining stories we all consume – have the power to alter our hearts and minds, shift our perspectives, tackle deep-rooted stigmas, reverse misconceptions and ultimately, change the way the world defines and views disability. Simply put, good stories can change our society for the better.

You’ve likely seen or heard of our key efforts including the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge or the Media Access Awards presented by Easterseals. And if not, I’d encourage you to dive in and watch some of the powerful films and TV highlighted within each – it makes for great binge-watching while we’re all safely holding up at home.

Through our collaborative work here in Los Angeles, Easterseals has made incredible friends, who are actively working at all levels of entertainment to advance disability inclusion, while, at the same time, building tremendous careers and sharing their many talents with all of us. And, these very same friends – celebrated filmmakers and actors with disabilities – have now volunteered their time, without hesitation, to help Easterseals share a critically important message about safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Check them all out in our brand new #StayHomeSaveLives PSAs – watch them now!

Virtually everyone featured in the PSAs has also, in some way, been involved in the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, including Nic Novicki, the Film Challenge’s founder/director and member of Easterseals Southern California’s Board of Directors. Spearheaded by filmmaker John Lawson, the PSAs include clips and soundbites from 20 different actors with disabilities, including: Ed Begley, Jr., Coby Bird, Jamie Brewer, L. Scott Caldwell, Patrika Darbo, Tobias Forrest, Micah Fowler, Angel Giuffria, Jenni Gold, Danny J. Gomez, Sammi Haney, Diana Elizabeth Jordan, RJ Mitte, Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, Nic Novicki, Cole Sibus, Millicent Simmonds, Marilee Talkington, Danny Woodburn, and of course, John Lawson, himself.

The PSAs reinforce that we are all in this together, and asks us to self-isolate, stay at home, and do our part to stop the spread of this virus – especially because people with disabilities, older adults and individuals with chronic diseases may be particularly vulnerable. There are more than 61 million children and adults living with a disability in the U.S., making it the largest minority group in the country.

Here’s my ask of all of you – please share these life-saving PSAs with everyone you know! Through these videos, we see the strength and commitment of a multi-talented group of people, proudly representing the disability community and offering support to our communities in a meaningful and tangible way.

Now that’s what I call a good story!

 

Schooling at Home Especially Difficult for Special Needs Families

a young child is writing in a notebook in front of a laptop that shows a video their teacherFinding it difficult to have your children with special needs at home every day while their schools are closed? You are not alone. A story on NPR’s Morning Edition this morning featured a special education consultant in North Carolina who is working at home while she, her Husband and their two daughters shelter in place for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most of this special education consultant’s work these days involves helping special needs families as they adapt to the new normal, and she has first-hand knowledge of what this is like: their oldest daughter is 12 years old and has Down syndrome.

“This tends to be a common theme with children with downs syndrome, they’re very sociable, people matter to them in ways that almost doesn’t have words,” she told the NPR reporter. “They love their people, and they need their people, too.”

While working at home, this mom says she tries to keep everyone on track, and her oldest girl out of trouble. Like her, most of her client families are in a survival mode at home as well, struggling to keep their children occupied and following school assignments at home. “I try reassuring them that getting through a day is really your success,” she said. “If learning happens, that‘s great, but if it looks like a hot mess, that’s okay, too.”

Easterseals is working with families facing the same challenges. If you haven’t already, take a look at some of the resources for parents who are looking after kids with disabilities while schools are closed. 

 

Navigating a World Impacted By COVID-19

a child looks at a tablet will sitting on the floor, attending virtual therapy The world is facing an extremely difficult and sobering time. Many of our lives have been put on pause or turned upside down. This is especially felt by those in the Easterseals community. The virus is mostly affecting people with disabilities, older adults, people with complex medical conditions, as well as parents and caregivers who do everything they can to ensure the well-being of their loved ones.

While this may be a challenging time for everyone in our communities, we hold on to our values now more than ever.  Easterseals is not just about delivering services; we are about community. We are about overcoming barriers and obstacles together with the support of our friends, neighbors, families and loved ones.

From the start of the pandemic, we have found new and innovative ways to serve individuals, families and communities who have come to rely on Easterseals for more than 100 years.  We will continue to face the challenges posed by COVID-19 and make it through together. Until then, we are proud and inspired by the commitment of the Easterseals network of 68 facilities which serve 1.5 million individuals and families each year – including now as we face this national public health crisis.

  • Telehealth and Virtual Services. Many Easterseals health care professionals throughout our network are now delivering services through technology or by  telephone. We are still connecting with individuals and families by providing counseling, therapies, guidance on health and wellness, referring people to resources for food and other essential needs, as well as providing stay-at-home activities and exercises.

Take a look at little Isiah from Easterseals Delaware & Maryland’s Eastern Shore completing his last Easterseals speech therapy session virtually! We are so proud of him!

  • Online Events. Several Easterseals programs and events were unfortunately closed, cancelled or postponed during the Coronavirus outbreak. However, Easterseals therapists, early education teachers, and instructors have taken to social media to offer families free resources, activities and tips to help them navigate staying at home during the pandemic.  Sheila, an Easterseals therapist, hosted an online sing-a-long for children looking to make their voices heard! Amica, a teacher, gave us story time for kids. And Danielle, another Easterseals therapist, has created a video series to help families implement positive behavior intervention supports at home.

As mentioned, many Easterseals events and programs used to generate revenue have been cancelled or closed. The good news is that a lot of them have gone virtual! Please be sure to visit your local Easterseals to see how you can support your community, or if you can, please donate here.

  • Community support. As you know, New York is experiencing an alarming number of COVID-19 cases which threatens the health care infrastructure within the state. Easterseals is doing everything possible to ensure essential goods and resources get to families that need them. This includes collecting and distributing food and other necessities (laundry soap, bar soap, shampoo, hand wipes) to over 500 people with disabilities, older adults and their families. Here’s how you can help.
  • Online Resources. We want to make sure people are informed and equipped with the most helpful information to navigate the new normal of sheltering in place during the crisis.  Here are a few resources for you – please share!
    • Coronavirus: Staying Healthy Together – a collection of network-wide resources to support parents and people with disabilities
    • Resources for Caregivers – a collection of resources put together by Easterseals Central Illinois to help parents cope with stay-at-home directives.
    • Coronavirus Resources (Links to a master spreadsheet) – Thanks to Easterseals Colorado for gathering these robust resources, addressing everything from delivery services to physical and mental wellness to socializing. Some of these resources are specific to Colorado but many can be used by anyone.

We hope you find these resources helpful and inspire you to do what you can to stay safe and healthy. We’re in this together!

 

 

The 2020 U.S. Census: We Need to be Counted

Illustrated hands in the air (background). Illustrations of people, some with disabilities (foreground) A couple reporters contacted me with questions about Census 2020 and its importance to people with disabilities. When they asked if I’d filled out the form on my own during the census ten years ago, I had to tell them no. “It wasn’t accessible,” I said with a shrug.

In 2010, the official census form every American received in the mail was not available in an accessible format. People who were blind or had visual impairments were told to ask someone we know to help us fill out a census questionnaire, visit a Questionnaire Assistance Center where a paid Census Bureau staff member could help us, or call a toll free number that was available between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. 7 days a week.

My husband can see, and he filled out the form for us in 2010.

Today, on Census Day, I’m hoping to fill our form out on my own. You can do so too by visiting https://my2020census.gov. The 2020 Census Fact Sheet reports that the 2020 online questionnaire will follow the latest Website Accessibility Content Guidelines (WACG) and that Braille and large print guides can also be provided for those who prefer responding by U.S. mail.

Why do I care about all this? Why is it so important for me, a person with a disability, to be counted – especially while the world faces the impact of COVID-19? Here’s why:

  • Transportation. My community uses census data when planning for public transit routes, upgrades and changes. Billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed for transportation projects, including public transit, accessible pedestrian signals, and truncated domes at intersections. I need all of those things to get  around the city safely. The funding our state gets is based on census data. If I am not counted, that could mean less money for my city and state for these projects. I need to be counted.
  • Health and Social Services. My state receives billions of federal dollars to support a wide variety of programs, including funding for services I use that are specifically for people with blindness and vision loss. I need to be counted.
  • Representation. The number of people who respond in my community and state will determine the number of Electoral votes we get to help choose who becomes president, the number of seats our state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives, and how the congressional and state legislative districts are drawn. I need to be counted.

Yes. People with disabilities need to be counted. And this year, thanks to accessibility measures, I just might be able to see to that on my own.

 

We’re in This Together! A Conversation with John Lawson, Actor & Filmmaker

This just in: an important message about COVID-19 from some incredible, multi-talented friends within the disability community. Thank you to filmmaker extraordinaire John Lawson for quickly spearheading this urgent public service project!

This video reminds us that we are all in this together…to self-isolate, stay at home, and do your part to stop the spread of this virus – especially because people with disabilities may be particularly vulnerable. Please share with your friends and help us save lives!

And, here’s a fun fact. The filmmaker and everyone you see in this PSA are active participants (and super spokespeople) of the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, including its founder/director, actor and Easterseals Southern California board member, Nic Novicki.

We’re thrilled to host John today for a brief Q&A about this awesome video:

Easterseals: What made you decide to do the PSA?

John: I actually saw a PSA that was done by a major network with some of their TV series regulars, but of course it didn’t include anyone with disabilities. In my own research and seeing information posted about COVID-19, I learned that seniors and some people with certain disabilities or compromised immune systems would be more at risk. Especially early on, with lack of testing available and reports of some people not realizing they could be carriers infecting others, I felt it important to help spread the word about self-isolation as a protection to the public.

Easterseals: In the climate of social distancing, how did you get all those celebrities to participate?John smiling at the camera

John: After being in the trenches for nearly 30 years as an advocate for people with disabilities, especially in film and television, I have worked with and become good friends with many actors of different levels of success. I just email or called everyone and asked them to participate. From New York to New Orleans to Los Angeles, they were all happy to help by filming at their respective homes to help spread the message. Everyone sent their videos to me and then I edited the PSA into its final version.

Easterseals: What do you hope the PSA accomplishes?

John: Hopefully the public will see familiar faces from television and film that they invite into their homes for various forms of entertainment and realize that they could possibly infect not only loved ones within their own family circle, but also those who may be more at risk because of age, disability or compromised immune system.

Easterseals: Anything else you’d like to add?

John: I am really pleased that this little 90 second video, brought together in just 48 hours is being so well received and watched around the world. As the US is now the epicenter in the full grips of this global pandemic, hopefully the public will take the message to heart and realize that “safer at home” has just as big an impact for others as it does for themselves.

Truly, we are all in this together.

 

Visit John’s IMDb page to learn more about his work or check out his many films for the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge.

We’re in this Together features: Danny WoodburnDaryl Chill Mitchell, Marilee Talkington, Sammi Haney’s DisabilityShirts.com, Blair Williamson, Diana Elizabeth Jordan Actor/Solo Performer-Speaker, FilmmakerPatrika DarboNic NovickiAngel GiuffriaRJ Mitte, Tobias Forrest, and Danny Gomez.

 

Coronavirus: Keeping Safe and Healthy

an illustration of a heartSince the beginning of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, our top priority has been to ensure the protection and safety of all. As we continue to monitor the ongoing spread of the Coronavirus, we want to ensure everyone who relies on our services are aware of best practices to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

To stay healthy and safe, please take these actions:
• Cough and sneeze into your elbow or upper arm. Use a tissue.
• Wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water.
• Stay home if you are sick and seek medical care.

If you or someone you know receives Easterseals services at any of our centers across the country, be sure to connect locally for updates relevant to your location. If you experience or observe the symptoms below in your household, please stay home and reschedule any appointments. Call a healthcare professional, detailing your symptoms and any recent travel. They will provide instructions on next steps.

• Fever
• Cough
• Difficulty Breathing
• Sore Throat

Practice preventative behaviors at home or work. The CDC has more information about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Easterseals has taken necessary action to ensure all staff, caregivers, and volunteers are trained accordingly to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As a service organization that works closely with people with disabilities, older adults, and people with complex medical conditions, we understand the importance of a quick and swift response in this situation. That is why we have signed the National Call to Action as submitted by the World Institute on Disability, Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, and the National Council on Independent Living in solidarity with other disability organizations. We ask that federal and state governments ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are met as we plan for and respond to COVID-19.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit www.cdc.gov.