LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, June 5, 2020


LSA's Statement on Equity and Unity

From Charlotte Haberaecker, President and CEO of Lutheran Services in America

Our conviction that diversity is our strength, unity our biggest hope, and equity for all people throughout America must be demanded and achieved has never been more true — nor more deeply felt — than over this past week. George Floyd’s senseless death, like the countless people before him struck down by systemic racism, must be more than yet another wake-up call.

Damyn Kelly, President and CEO of Lutheran Social Services of New York, is correct when he emphasizes the obligation we all have to “not only act in ways that enhance quality of life for those we serve, but also to speak out against injustice when we see or experience it… We must continue to explore our personal biases against those who are different.” Read more here.

Advocacy Update

Senate Passes House-Approved “Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act”

On Wednesday, June 3, the Senate passed by voice vote H.R. 7010, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, which passed in the House nearly unanimously on May 28. The President signed the bill into law on June 5. We’ll be sharing with all Lutheran Services in America members a detailed update early next week on the bill, which among other things extends the period Paycheck Protection Program loan recipients have to spend funds and still qualify for loan forgiveness.

Please Continue to Join Us in Advocacy Outreach to Lawmakers

As lawmakers in the Senate continue to work on their version of the next large coronavirus relief legislation, we hope you will join us if you haven’t already in writing your Senators via our advocacy tools. You can quickly and easily click through to send emails urging them to include in any bill our key priorities, including much-needed targeted financial support for nonprofits on the frontlines caring for people while taking extraordinary steps to protect staff and people served. We also have a message to Senators asking them to contact the Federal Reserve Board to urge them to include nonprofits as eligible recipients of the Main Street Lending Program in the next round of funding.

Lutheran Services in America Signs on to Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Letter

This week, Lutheran Services in America signed on to a letter with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities to Senate Leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer. The letter is a show of support for the dedicated Medicaid HCBS funding that was included in the Heroes Act. Read the letter here.

Coronavirus Resources

Across the United States, Lutheran Services in America’s members are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing services to some of the nation’s most vulnerable people including people with disabilities. In efforts to keep you informed on timely, related resources, we have compiled a list of news and resources you may find helpful. In particular, we are tracking philanthropic and federal funding opportunities and requirements for our members and compiling a list of upcoming webinars, meetings, and events.  


For the Deaf, Social Distancing Can Mean Social Isolation

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, Ashlea Hayes, who is deaf and blind and who works as the secretary of National Black Deaf Advocates, has become much more cautious. She lives in Compton, Calif., where she usually does most of her food shopping herself, but lately she has become more reliant on delivery services.

“The grocery stores and things are quite regulated, and that’s overwhelming,” Ms. Hayes said. “The sense of panic everywhere is overwhelming.”

It would be different if she were allowed to see and touch her friends and colleagues, she said. “I have experienced a spike in my anxiety recently,” she added, “and that’s really because of all the precautionary measures that we have to take as a whole.”

The pandemic has flipped life upside down across the United States, shuttering schools, hobbling the economy and costing millions of Americans their jobs. But for the deaf, new social distancing guidelines, like staying six feet from others and wearing a mask, can present particular challenges, making everyday tasks more complicated and bringing increased stress and anxiety.

More from The New York Times

The intellectual disability community needs COVID tracking

Despite some states showing a flattening of the curve of COVID-19, hot pockets of vulnerability continue to report increases in cases and deaths. But not all vulnerable populations are even counted. 

A recent report by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica highlighted concerns of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. The report shows  21.5 percent of persons residing in large residential state developmental centers have tested positive for COVID-19. 

More from The Hill

Billions in COVID-19 relief is being withheld from those with disabilities

COVID-19 has created unique challenges and dangers for the most vulnerable in our population.

That includes the 6.5 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the United States – including roughly 750,000 in Arizona.

The strains and stresses of extended isolation have been highly disruptive or even life-threatening for people with such disabilities, noted Tia Nelis, policy and advocacy director for TASH, an international disability advocacy organization.

Social interaction for people with disabilities is critical because many rely on the assistance of direct support professionals to perform tasks that someone without a disability might consider routine.

But the call to stay at home and social distance during the crisis means many direct support professionals have not been able to provide in-person individual or group services without the risk of infection.

More from AZ Central

Dr. Bertram Brown, Mental Health Advocate, Is Dead at 89

Dr. Bertram S. Brown, a psychiatrist who figured prominently in federal efforts to re-envision public programs to deal with mental health and intellectual disabilities in the 1960s and ’70s, died on May 14 in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. He was 89.

More from The New York Times

Biden Urges Equality For People With Disabilities

The presumptive Democratic nominee for president is calling for more access to community-based services, competitive employment and greater disability representation in government.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is pushing a slew of changes in an effort to bring about “full equality” for those with disabilities.

In his disability plan released late last week, Biden said he wants to boost Supplemental Security Income benefits, fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, phase out subminimum wage and increase support for direct care providers as well as family caregivers.

More from Disability Scoop

The National Park Service is disserving people with disabilities

The National Park Service has barred vehicular traffic (i.e., parking) from Fort Hunt Park and other national parks in the Washington area as a response to the novel coronavirus. In the case of Fort Hunt, able-bodied people are parking their cars along the streets of the neighborhoods bordering the park and entering it through several pedestrian portals. Thus, the only people actually excluded from usage of the park are disabled people who depend upon their vehicles to afford them access to the park’s spacious acreage. This makes a mockery of the NPS’s supposed policy of accommodation of people with disabilities: “The NPS works to ensure that people with disabilities can participate in the same programs, activities, and employment opportunities available to those without disabilities in the most integrated setting possible.”

More from The Washington Post


With Schools Shut, Life Skills Program For Students With Disabilities Hits The Road

When Ohio’s school buildings abruptly shuttered in March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Lynette Ferrell’s heart ached for her 11-year-old son.

Kingston Ferrell, a fifth-grader at Fairmoor Elementary School on the East Side, was robbed of his final trip to LifeTown Columbus, she said.

The educational program teaches students with disabilities the skills needed to navigate everyday life with fun, interactive activities. Students who visit the 5,000-square-foot town in New Albany withdraw money from its bank for use at storefronts — a movie theater, salon, art studio, doctor’s office and more.

More from Disability Scoop

In State-Run Homes For Adults With Disabilities, COVID-19 Spread Quickly

While much of the attention related to COVID-19’s impact on vulnerable populations has focused on deaths at nursing homes, infection rates are remarkably high in another kind of residential setting: state-operated centers for adults with cognitive or behavioral disabilities.

As of late May, more than 1 in 5 people living in these developmental centers in Illinois had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, state data shows. That’s more than double the infection rate seen in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, where confirmed cases account for about 7 percent of residents, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

More from Disability Scoop

'I cried for days': Wisconsin blocks pandemic payments for federal disability aid recipients

People stopped traveling when the coronavirus pandemic hit, costing Jessica Barrera her job at Groome Transportation, an airport shuttle service with an office in Eau Claire. So the 40-year-old single mother joined nearly 70,000 other laid-off Wisconsinites during that third week of March: She filed her first weekly unemployment claim. 

She filed another claim the next week. And the next. And the next. She continued until the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development denied her claims in a letter that explained in bold, capital letters:


More from Wisconsin Watch

State set to provide funds for special needs in school districts following closures

The Tennessee Department of Education recently announced $5 million for school districts “to provide compensatory services and support innovative approaches” to assist students with disabilities next school year after struggling to keep up during closures.

According to the department, these grant funds will be awarded to districts as an increase in federal Individuals with Disabilities Act, or IDEA, funding in July.

Funds will be sent based on each district’s share of the state’s IDEA part B allocations. Districts will then be allowed to budget it to bolster supplemental services and programs when students return in the fall.

More from Johnson City Press

Research & Reports

Recent College Graduates Benefiting From Impact of Landmark ADA

Recent college graduates with disabilities are as likely as their peers without disabilities to hold jobs, according to a national survey that suggests they have benefited from coming of age under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The survey by the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability being released Wednesday also shows that recent college graduates with and without disabilities were equally likely to have prepared for careers by connecting with mentors and completing internships in college. Some differences emerged, though, once they landed jobs.

More from The New York Times

National survey gives insight into college-to-work experiences of recent college graduates

Kessler Foundation released the results of the first national survey of college graduates with disabilities coming of age under the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law 30 years ago on July 26, 1990. The 2020 Kessler Foundation National Employment and Disability Survey: Recent College Graduates is the third in a groundbreaking series of surveys aimed at gaining detailed information on the ways people with disabilities achieve inclusion in the workplace.

More from EurekAlert

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

Lutheran Services in America's Front Line Heroes

Each day, Lutheran Services in America posts a story about heroes working on the front lines. Those posts are meant to celebrate the extraordinary work of Lutheran social ministries, and elevate the commitment to serving communities throughout crises. Read front line hero stories here.

To submit stories front line hero stories, email Caitlyn Gudmudsen at

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2020 Summer Meeting
August 5-7, 2020
Details TBD

LSA-DN 2021 Winter Meeting
February 24-26, 2021
Details TBD


For more information on our topic specific work groups, please email Jen Beltz at

  • Policy & Advocacy Team
  • Culture and Engagement Workgroup
  • Administrative Cost Survey Working Group

Keep in Touch

Lisa Morgan
DN Convener
Chief Operating Officer, Lutheran Family Services of Virginia

Rita Wiersma
DN Treasurer
Chief Executive Officer, Accord

Jen Beltz 
VP, External Affairs, Lutheran Services in America