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Brief Published: 25 Mar 2020

#HighRiskCovid19: Vulnerable People Speak Up

People with disabilities and chronic Illnesses are taking to social media to verbalise their concerns amid the Covid-19 crisis

People living with disabilities and chronic illnesses are posting with the hashtag #HighRiskCovid19 on social media to improve visibility for those in high-risk groups and educate others on ableism.

Posts reveal a refusal to be dismissed as the vulnerable minority, highlighting the insensitivity around discourse reassuring people that the virus ‘only’ kills the fragile, elderly and chronically ill.

“It’s exciting to see people feeling seen, especially when we have been fighting to be seen and heard for weeks in the face of messaging that portrays high-risk populations as disposable during this pandemic,” one of the co-founders of the hashtag, Charis Hill – a trans disability activist with Spondylitis – told media outlet Dazed.

The movement also sees disability activists pointing out that this pandemic is introducing able-bodied individuals to many things that people with disabilities or chronic illness face regularly – for example limited access to public spaces and mental health issues arising from isolation.

It’s further highlighting that rather than impairment or difference itself being disabling, the primary issue is society’s lack of provision for those who are differently abled, alongside prevalent negative attitudes. For example, many posts reveal how companies that have refused people with disabilities flexible or remote working solutions are now letting all staff work from home.

This self-advocating attitude is in keeping with a new breed of health consumer that’s emboldened, engaged, vocal and visible, as introduced in Empowering Future Patients – part of our Spotlight Trend The Healthcare Opportunity.

As people tear down stigmas in the face of Covid-19, organisations should reconsider how they treat those with disabilities and chronic illness, as well as their rights.