Insights on COVID-19 and Disability: A Review of the Consideration of People with Disability in Communicating the Disease Profile and Interventions

Keywords: covid-19, coronavirus, disability, communication, people living with disability, health information


In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, governments and other key agencies have the responsibility of mainstreaming disability inclusion into pandemic responses to ensure that the rights and wellbeing of persons living with disabilities are safeguarded. While engaging with communities and larger populations in the response to COVID-19, it is important to understand the needs of specific groups that might experience barriers to accessing information, care and support or be at higher risk of exposure and secondary impact, such as children and adults with disabilities, who make up an estimated 15% of the population and are often invisible and excluded. We searched MEDLINE, PubMed, Google, Google scholar and LILACS and reference lists of eligible studies published January 2000–July 2020, reporting on disability challenges and COVID-19 communications to people living with disability. Persons Living with Disabilities are most likely to experience high negative impact on their day-to-day life needs due to the economic downturn brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. There has to be deliberate undertaking to make COVID-19 related medical and quarantine policies and processes accessible and disability-inclusive. Apart from communicators of COVID-19 being inclusive in communicating the profile of the disease and interventions, there is a need to ensure that all pandemic responses are disability- inclusive, including through close consultation, meaningful participation and partnerships with persons with diverse disabilities.