Disability Policy News

March 8, 2021

Disability Policy News logo, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Disability Policy News logo, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
                 March 8, 2021   |   Vol. MMXXI, Issue 9

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically.

COVID-19 Relief 

The Senate passed an updated version of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R.1319) on Saturday following hours-long voting on the COVID-19 relief legislation (50-49). The Senate-passed version does not include a provision included in the House-passed bill raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and it tightens the income eligibility limits for the $1,400 stimulus checks to $80,000 for an individual and $160,000 for a couple. The legislation will now return to the House to be voted on in its current form before heading to President Biden for his signature before the current enhanced unemployment insurance runs out on March 14th. 

COVID-19 relief issues impacting the disability community: 


 Biden Proposal

Senate-passed Budget Reconciliation


Funding for Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS)


Budget reconciliation includes 7.35% FMAP increase for HCBS for one year.


Adult dependents included in Economic Impact Payments




Funding for Developmental Disabilities (DD) Network




Funding tied to individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA)


1) $2,580,000,000 for grants to states under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act;

2) $200,000,000 for preschool grants under Section 619 of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act; 

3) $250,000,000 for programs for infants and toddlers with disabilities under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act.


Plain language:

  • Congress is working to pass COVID-19 relief. The goal is to pass it in March.
What it means to you:

  • Right now, there is some funding for the disability community in the COVID-19 relief proposal. However, continued advocacy will be needed to make sure that funding is passed. Now is the time to contact your Members of Congress.
    • In the House, let them know your needs. For example, your Home and Community-Based Services, stimulus payments, or education.
    • In the Senate, thank them for passage and let them know how these issues will impact the disability community.
Action steps:

  • Learn more about the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: 
  • Learn more about the Budget Reconciliation process from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
  • Email or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representatives.
    • You can use this easy tool to find your members of Congress.
    • Share AUCD's top priorities for COVID-19 relief with House Representatives and give your thanks to Senators.
  • Consider sharing with your Members of Congress a recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, ‘COVID-19 Vaccine Access for People with Disabilities', which summarizes the troubling data showing the risks of severe illness and death due to COVID-19 for individual with disabilities across living settings.

medical injection needle and calendar, black and whiteCOVID-19 Vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published new clarifying language regarding COVID-19 vaccination for individuals with disabilities on the webpage, ‘Interim Considerations for Phased Implementation of COVID-19 Vaccination and Sub-Prioritization Among Recommended Populations':

"Sub-prioritization may also be necessary among other groups included in Phase 1b and 1c. Jurisdictions should consider the unique needs of residents, such as people with disabilities or cognitive decline (and their caretakers), as well as those with limited access to technology, when evaluating vaccination location accessibility, communicating vaccine information, and scheduling appointments."

Individuals with disabilities and their families or caregivers continue to face barriers to accessing the COVID-19 vaccine across many states, including lack of accessibility features on vaccination sign-up websites and at the physical vaccination sites. A group of Senators led by Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) sent a letter to the Department of Justice and the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services urging compliance with the accessibility rights afforded by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and requesting further information on accessibility efforts.

Plain language:

  • It is important that disabled people at high risk get the vaccine. Getting the vaccine must be accessible to all people. 
What it means to you:

  • There is now more clear guidance that advocates can use when pushing states to prioritize people at risk. There is also attention to the need for the process to be accessible. 
Action steps:

black fist raised upRacial Justice

The House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R.1280) last week along party lines (220-212). The police reform bill would make it easier to sue police officers by easing "qualified immunity," ban police chokeholds and "no-knock" warrants, prohibit racial and religious profiling, and establish a national database to track police misconduct. The bill now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to undergo amendments in order to reach the 60-vote threshold to pass.

Plain language:

  • Racism hurts our country. Congress is working on a bill to change how police officers do their jobs to protect Black and brown people.
What it means to you:

  • We all have a role in addressing racism and making needed changes. The injustice and inequality experienced by Black Americans is a human rights, civil rights, and disability rights issue. The disability community will work for change.
Action steps:

hand putting ballot in boxVoting Rights

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the For the People Act (H.R.1) entirely along party lines (220-210). The sweeping measure would require all states to offer mail-in voting and early voting, institute nationwide automatic voter registration, curtail voter ID laws, limit partisan gerrymandering, and overhaul campaign finance laws. The majority of the provisions included in H.R. 1 will positively impact all voters in America, including voters with disabilities. However, the paper ballot mandate included in the bill is of concern to voters with disabilities. The ability to mark, verify, and cast a paper ballot privately and independently is currently not an accessible option for all voters. The bill now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to face opposition from Republican Senators. The Senate Rules and Administration Committee will hold a hearing on the For the People Act on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Senate Democrats would need ten Republicans to support the bill in order for it to pass.

Plain language:

  • Congress is working on a bill to make it easier for people to vote in elections.
What it means to you:

  • There can be many barriers to voting for people with disabilities. It is important that any changes to how voting works make it easier, not harder, for people with disabilities to vote.
Action steps:

AUCD logo AUCD Disability Policy Fellowship

The application is now open for the AUCD 2021-2022 Disability Policy Fellowship. The purpose of the Fellowship is to provide significant experiences in national level activities related to policy and legislative development, advocacy, program development, technical assistance, and AUCD administration. This is a paid full-time, one-year position beginning June 2021. The position offers a competitive salary and has the option to be located either in-person at the AUCD Silver Spring office or remote.

Applicants should submit a letter of interest explaining their reasons for wanting to become a Fellow, what they hope to get out of the fellowship, and how they plan to use the knowledge and skills gained. Please include a current resume and at least three letters of reference. A recent writing sample will be accepted but is not required. Please send all documents as attachments via e-mail only to: Rylin Rodgers, Director of Public Policy, at [email protected].

Plain language:

  • The application for the AUCD 2021-2022 Disability Policy Fellowship is now open. You need to apply by March 30th. 
Action steps:

outline of U.S. Capitol Building in blueDisability Policy Seminar

The Disability Policy Seminar and the pre-DPS events for the AUCD network will be entirely virtual this year.

  • The AUCD events will be virtual on March 19 and April 16. You may register for those free events now. 
  • Disability Policy Seminar will be April 19, 2021 to April 22, 2021. The cost to students and self-advocates is $135, and $225 for all others. Registration is now open!
The Disability Policy Seminar offers the opportunity for passionate advocates, self-advocates, experts, and professionals in the field to come together and learn about key federal issues that affect them most. After a wide range of sessions offering training and learning, participants will learn how best to engage with their Members of Congress and be given opportunities to do so. You are welcome to register for both the AUCD events and the Disability Policy Seminar or for either.

Plain language:

  • The Disability Policy Seminar will be a virtual event from April 19, 2021 - April 22, 2021. You can register now!
  • The AUCD Prevents will be virtual on March 19 and April 16. You may register for those free events now.
Action steps:

logo of AUCD Policy Talk
AUCD Policy Talk

"Once again, we are left to wonder how many people will be left behind-and how many lives of people with disabilities will be jeopardized and possibly even be lost from a delay in receiving a vaccine for Covid-19 as a result of the deepening of disability discrimination when access to a vaccine and ultimately, access to one's health and life, depends on whether or not a website is accessible to you."

This week on AUCD Policy Talk, Dr. Laura C. Hoffman, a Senior Research Fellow with the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy at Yale Law School, discusses the urgent need to improve the accessibility of COVID-19 vaccine websites.

Action steps:

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz Weintraub
Tuesdays with Liz

On this week's vintage #TWL, Liz outlines what branches compose the Developmental Disabilities Act and what they do to support Americans with disabilities in the community.