Arts & Culture » News

Online Extra: SF to host virtual town halls about coronavirus for disability community

Assistant Editor

San Francisco officials will hold two video town halls to update the disability community on services during the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: Courtesy Wikipedia
San Francisco officials will hold two video town halls to update the disability community on services during the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: Courtesy Wikipedia   

Although San Francisco's disability council has had to cancel its April 17 meeting, the Mayor's Office on Disability and a community group are hosting virtual town halls next week to update the community about the city's response to the new coronavirus pandemic.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a story in its April 9 issue, the lives of people with disabilities have been upended in countless ways by the global pandemic. Similar to the LGBT community, the disability community is diverse and requires different services and levels of assistance.

Obeying the shelter-in-place orders can be a challenge for people who are disabled. And finding transportation can also be problematic due to public transit systems either shutting down or drastically reducing their services.

Another key concern during the crisis within the disability community is unemployment. Disabled people already face barriers to employment and many work in industries considered to be nonessential businesses. Seven out of 10 of the 56 million working age Americans with disabilities do not have jobs because they can't get hired or gave up looking for work.

Another issue is if a person with a disability has a personal care attendant, someone who comes to their home to help them with such things as going to the bathroom or bathing. Employing such a person could put them at risk for the virus, yet suspending such care for the time being isn't really an option for some people with disabilities who live alone.

The Community Living Campaign will host an online informational session from 1 to 2 p.m. Monday, April 13, specifically about transportation issues and how people can continue to get around the city at this time. As of Wednesday, the city's transit agency Muni has reduced its services to just 17 bus lines. The regional BART transit system has also severely cut service, with trains running every 30 minutes Monday-Friday and closing at 9 p.m.

In addition to explaining what Muni service is currently available, the town hall will also address service via Paratransit van and taxi, Shop-a-Round, BART, taxis, and Uber/Lyft. Other public transit options for seniors and people with disabilities will also be discussed.

San Francisco's disability office has encouraged people to attend and officials with the SFMTA and SF Paratransit Mobility Management Center are also expected to take part. The forum will also provide the city's disability community a way to offer feedback to officials on San Francisco's COVID-19 emergency response.

The Zoom video link is https://zoom.us/j/7256382880. People will also be able to participate by phone by calling 1-669-900-9128; the meeting ID is 725 638 2880#.

The second virtual town hall will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, and be jointly hosted by the city's Emergency Operations Center Community Branch, Disability and Aging Services, and Mayor's Office on Disability. It will be a general discussion about resources related to the accessibility of and disability services provision within SF's COVID-19 emergency response. Participants will also be able to provide feedback.

The Zoom webinar link is https://zoom.us/j/536316054?pwd=SWxMTVd0VVMwNW1URy9TbGQvMGJUdz09

To participate by phone dial 1-669-900-6833; the meeting ID is 536 316 054.

Real-time captioning will be provided for the town hall with the city departments. For other accommodations, contact the Mayor's Office on Disability at mod@sfgov.org or 415 554-6789.

For more information about the city's disability services, visit https://sfgov.org/mod/.

Editor's note: If you liked this article, help out our freelancers and staff, and keep the B.A.R. going in these tough times. For info, visit our IndieGoGo campaign.

Comments on Facebook