Supporting People with the Challenges of COVID-19

The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act), passed by Congress last March in response to COVID-19, has provided funding assistance for vulnerable populations with needs specific to the pandemic. Disability Network, as a Center for Independent Living, received CARES Act funding to provide COVID-19 related services to customers in our communities.

Lisa, a 51 year old woman who is hard of hearing, is a great example of how we have supported people in navigating new barriers that COVID-19 has presented.

woman holding phone up with text of conversation.

When COVID-19 came along, forcing all of us to be more isolated, Lisa started participating in our online Community Education events which have helped her stay connected to people. Through this connection, Lisa reached out to us for assistance with communication at her doctor’s appointments. Being hard of hearing, Lisa relies heavily on reading lips to help her understand conversations. People wearing face-masks during COVID-19 has created a significant barrier to her ability to communicate. Lisa wanted to find a Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) service provider for her appointments. CART service is a person who provides live, immediate translation of speech into a typed format for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

Our staff did connect Lisa with a CART provider, and also continued to look into other options that might be more convenient for her. Through CARES Act funding, Disability Network was able to provide funds for Lisa to purchase a phone with voice recognition capability that can provide her with immediate translation service in her pocket whenever she needs it. Lisa told our staff, “It is remarkable how much it assists with being able to know what people are saying!”

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