Introduction

‘Disability Inclusion in Covid-19 Vaccination Program’ by USAID and SMRC

‘Disability Inclusion in Covid-19 Vaccination Program’ by USAID and SMRC

Nidhi Goyal is wearing a white salwar kameez and speaking into a mic. There are lights shining and many people in the room with tables and chairs. Two people are engaged in shooting a video (of Nidhi speaking) with a video camera.

Shanta Memorial Rehabilitation Centre and USAID jointly organised a workshop on ‘Disability Inclusion in Covid-19 Vaccination Program’ in Bhubaneswar, India from June 8 – 9 2022. Rising Flame team with Founder and Executive Director Nidhi Goyal and Co-Lead programmes, Rising Flame conducted 3 sessions highlighting the critical intersection of disability, gender, accessibility and vaccination during the Covid-19 crisis. 

In the session on ‘Disability and gender: Vaccination in the COVID crisis’, Nidhi Goyal spoke about the need for us to address how women with disabilities are specifically excluded in the process of vaccinations. She also addressed the increased vulnerabilities of women with disabilities and how we can address these as civil society organisations. Nidhi also discussed the increasing barriers faced by disabled people in the pandemic, and the specific experiences faced by blind folks that included touch becoming stigmatised. This made navigating a tactile world a lot harder, and affected how disability experiences shifted during (and after) the pandemic.

In the session on ‘Inclusive Communication and Technology’, Srinidhi Raghavan spoke about the ways in which information around COVID 19 itself was limited for people with disabilities. Many of them had to depend on families or others to share information around safeguards and even navigating the system for vaccinations. This led to many myths and misconceptions around vaccinations among disabled people. There was also a lot of gaps in vaccine related information for disabled people and a shift in the same was needed.

Finally, in the third session, Nidhi and Srinidhi navigated the very practical aspects of making our communication around COVID19 and other topics accessible to disabled people. Through writing alt texts or image descriptions or adding subtitles to videos, these aspects of communication were brought forth.

The training was attended by civil society actors to enable their active involvement in reaching out to and working with persons with disabilities in the ongoing vaccination programmes.