What People With Disabilities Are Saying: Working From Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic

By Chelsea Dickson

The coronavirus doesn’t discriminate. But as the pandemic spreads across the United States, the effects are not evenly distributed. The crisis is highlighting inequalities that activists across many communities have been calling out for years.

People with disabilities are speaking up about how this unfolding disaster is affecting the disability community in particular. And they’ve also been commenting on the way it’s bringing to light issues that people with disabilities faced before the crisis began.

One topic? Workplace accommodations—especially the ability to work from home.

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Working from home is suddenly possible due to the coronavirus

Working from home can be a “reasonable accommodation” for workers with disabilities, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. But many people with disabilities have found pushback when asking to work from home in the past. 

Now, the global pandemic has left many businesses with no other choice. Remote work is suddenly the new normal for many. And lots of people with disabilities have been frustrated by how quickly and efficiently that’s happened.

Here’s Gregory Mansfield, an attorney and disability advocate: 

Haley Moss is an attorney and autism advocate:

Sara Luterman, a disability writer, expressed concern that the general stress of a global pandemic might give employers the wrong idea about remote work:

And Imani Barbarin, a writer and disability advocate tweeting as Crutches&Spice, offers a thread:

What does the future of remote work look like?

Given the unprecedented speed and scale of the current shift to remote work, what does the future hold? Right now, no one is sure.

But if you’re an employer, you can use this opportunity to strengthen your remote work policies and practice. That way, when the offices that are closed start to open again, you’ll be ready to offer a more inclusive workplace for employees with disabilities.

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