Maria Town President and CEO, AAPD and Kelly Buckland Executive Director, NCIL
March 17, 2020 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

Joyce welcomes Maria Town, the president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and Kelly Buckland, executive director of the National Council of Independent Living (NCIL) to the show. Her guests will discuss the issues facing people with disabilities now amid the current outbreak of COVID-19 and will answer questions from callers. The AAPD promotes equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation for people with disabilities, while NCIL is the longest-running national cross-disability, grassroots organization run by and for people with disabilities. NCIL represents thousands of organizations and individuals including: individuals with disabilities, Centers for Independent Living (CILs), Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs), and other organizations that advocate for the human and civil rights of people with disabilities throughout the United States.

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Transcript

FINISHED FILE

BENDER PROGRAM

MARCH 17, 2020

1:00 PM CST

 

 

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>> JOYCE BENDER:  Welcome to the show, everyone.  If you know it were not for great companies like Wells Fargo, people's, the employment option and our host sponsor for the past four years ‑‑ hi, Mark ‑‑ we wouldn't be able to do these important things we're going to do like today.  This isn't going to be a normal show, folks, because as you all know, it isn't a normal time with the Coronavirus, but we care so much about everyone, but especially we're concerned about our brothers and sisters living with disabilities, dealing with this Coronavirus and also Guy Young and Richard Roberts, Okinawa and Seoul, Korea, they were diplomats for the Embassy.  I am so glad you're here that things are looking on the upswing now, but wherever you are in the world, we care about you, we're thinking about you and when I decided to do this, I thought you know what, there isn't one, you know, national radio show podcast just dedicated to people with disabilities about this COVID virus and this COVID epidemic and yet people want to know.  They're afraid.  They don't know what to do.

I wanted to have this emergency show today.  I couldn't think of any other disability leaders that I would want to have on than Maria Town, the CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities ‑‑ and National Buckland and more importantly, they are two great disability leaders in our country that we all know and look up to.  Maria and Kelly, welcome.

>> MARIA TOWN:  Thank you, Joyce.  Great to be here.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  So Maria and Kelly, please feel free to interject and jump in.  You are my guest and there is total fear and panic for People with Disabilities.  There are so many types of disabilities with so many needs and people are isolated and don't know what to do.  Maria, what are some of the main issues that you're hearing about?  For example, for people with mental health issues.

>> MARIA TOWN:  Joyce, that's a great question and there are a few issues specific to the mental health community that we should be aware of.  One is just the isolation for people who might live by themselves and I think that this is through for everybody, not just folks with psychiatric disabilities.  They live by themselves.  A long isolation can be detrimental to people's health and then also the news about COVID‑19 and how dangerous it is can create a lot of anxiety.  All of this in variety if you're on social media or watching television because it is dominating the headlines these days.  They're being difficult to try not to focus on all of the various implications of this virus and it can really again create a lot of anxiety and harm people's mental health and then another concern and this is the last thing I'll talk about, is access to medication.  If you're someone who uses medication to manage your mental health and either a pharmacy runs out of supply or it's not safe for you to go outside and go into a public safe like a pharmacy, you can have a hard time accessing your medication and a lot insurers don't allow flexibility on medication refills and enforce individuals to have to wait until they only have a few days left in order to restock.  And that's a huge issue and not just people with mental health issues, but anyone who relies on medication for management of their condition or disability.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  You know, Maria, I asked you that right away because we're getting so many questions about it, but actually, I want to back up for a minute.  You worked with the department of labor.  You worked at the White House with president Obama and you worked in the City of Houston.  You have done so much.  By the way, such a young age and I'm saying all, this but that just says a lot about you.  But people really look up to you and I'll be asking Kelly this next, but they're looking to someone to be a leader for them in the disability community.  I wanted to ask you:  Do you have any words of encouragement or suggestions or anything you would like to say to our listeners?

>> MARIA TOWN:  Um, thank you, Joyce.  That's very kind.  Disability on its own means you have survived.  People with disabilities we are a community who knows how to adapt and so many of these things that we move society to do to adjust to this pandemic are actually things that the disability community has been advocating for so long.  And so I think now is a great time to speak up, to speak out and to say, um, you know, flexible (inaudible) proper oral hygiene are things we have been asking for and now everybody understands.  And so it can be very easy to feel overwhelmed and easy to feel isolated in times like this.  If you can look at it as a way that people without disabilities are understanding a little bit of our reality, we can use them for our progress and our (inaudible).

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Yes.  Thank you so much.  I have can a question I will ask both of you in a minute.  Kelly, you are giant in our industry, you know.  In a disability rights community, and now you can say, Maria, Kelly, they know who you're talking about, but I wanted to ask you, Kelly, what ‑‑ what ‑‑ what can you ‑‑ what hope can you give, what advice can you give to people with disabilities listening to this show right now?

>> KELLY BUCKLAND:  Well, I think, um ‑‑ I think a lot of the information is out there for everybody else is also apropo for people with disabilities.  I think one of the major differences is that People with Disabilities when it comes to social distancing, it's not really feasible for a lot of us.  We have people coming into our homes more than once a day to take care of some very basic life needs and they have to touch us to do that.  We can't tell our personal care attendants or drug professionals to not come into our homes because we depend on them to do things for us and some of those are very life sustaining things.  I think there are different sorts of threats for us specifically those people coming into our homes and we don't know what they've been doing the rest of the day when they weren't with us.  And so we have to even do those basic hygiene things that people are talking about like washing their hands and trying to stay at least 6 feet away from people if they can and not coming into our homes if they're sick.  All those things become even more relevant because of the people we depend on to come into our homes.  And so given that, if one of the people we're depending on gets sick, we need to have some back up plans in place.  So I think there are some other preparedness things that people with disabilities need to be mindful of that others don't need to be quite so thoughtful about.  And we shouldn't be shy about talking to those people who are working for us and coming into our homes about what we expect from them in regards to hygiene as well.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Yeah.  That's just one example.  You know, there are different things that people with disabilities are going to encounter through this.  Although, you know, one thing about People with Disabilities is like we're a family, you know, we care about each other, we'll help each other.  I'll tell you what we're doing at Bender Consulting offices, everyone is teleworking and there are people at different companies and now those companies have people at home teleworking.  Thank goodness.  But we're still calling every person including people that used to work for us just to say hey, how are you?  Do you need anything?  Like Maria mentioned about medication, one thing right now, if you try to go to a grocery store pharmacy, you're like lost in this like a stampede.  And you know, People with Disabilities sometimes are not able to move that fast if they use a wheelchair, whatever the disability may be or if they're blind or so many things you can think of.  We have to have ‑‑ we have to take care of each other.  We have to reach out to each other and, Kelly, what advice do you have that I assume you're meaning if you have a personal care attendant that you tell them I want you to wash your hands, possibly wear a mask or gloves, whatever.  But you expect the same treatment that they're advising on TV for people during this COVID‑19 crisis.  Is that what you mean?

>> KELLY BUCKLAND:  That's correct and have back up plans in case your attendant gets ill too.  They're wiping their cellphones often.  Disinfectants because those are huge germ careers.  Just saying, that's another piece of advice we would get.  And I think Maria's comments about medications are really true for everybody.  You need to ‑‑ they're loosening the rules around that too.  So people shouldn't be able to get medications on hand so that they have those as well.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  So what ‑‑ yeah.  Go ahead, maria.

>> MARIA TOWN:  I think one of the things that that this virus is affecting is how interconnected everything is in, you know ‑‑ Kelly's comments about personal care attendants and communicating to them that you expect the same level of services and hygiene, um, and the importance of having a back up plan is so crucial because, you know, even if they don't get sick, if they have children, for example, whose schools are closed, so now you have someone who has their kids at home.  They have to arrange for child care while still working with consumers, that can create a bunch of conflicts and problems.  And so maybe you as a consumer have told your direct support worker you're not allowed to bring your children to work and maybe now is the time to reevaluate that and say, you know, you can bring your children to appointments, but your children have to, you know, wash their hands or wear gloves or things like that.  I'm not actually saying that's a solution, but it is something that we all have to consider now because not only is there a threat of individuals getting sick, but it's now, you know, kids are staying at home.  Other forms of care and support are shutting down.  So we're going to have to think about meeting our needs differently.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Yeah.  I agree with you.

>> KELLY BUCKLAND:  Yeah.  The other thing, lots of areas are cutting back on public transportation.  Some attendants or the support folks are actually dependent upon public transportation to get to work.  So that's another issue that affects the work force that we depend on so much.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Yeah.  I wondered.  Even here in Pittsburgh, we're keeping an eye on access, which is the Perry transit for people with disabilities, but it's almost like you have this little map.  Transportation, do I have a back up plan if my attendant or care giver isn't coming.  You know, you have to think.  You have to have this plan.  Maria and Kelly, this is something I wanted to ask you.  Do you have any idea where people can go with disabilities if they have questions right now about ‑‑ I'll give you an example.  I have a mental health issue.  I have questions about what you do.  If you're not having your rights met, you know, where do they go?  Where can they go during this time?  Because I was wondering.  Maybe we should think of doing something about that.  I don't know.  I guess you can e‑mail AAPD for certain questions.  I don't know.  What do you think, Maria?

>> MARIA TOWN:  Sure.  So APD, we built a form to capture how people are advocating, what they're doing to insure that, um, things remain accessible or their needs are still able to be met.  But I think we can also create a similar tool for people to ask questions.  In addition to reaching out to AAPD, you could look into the partnership for inclusive disaster strategies.  They've done some great issue.  They have issues us disability call to action.  They have also been working on some guidance related to personal attendant services.  And then I actually think and Kelly did not tell me to say this, but I think reaching out to your local center for independent living would be a great place to start.

>> KELLY BUCKLAND:  I agree and I think people ‑‑ I mean, they should reach out to their local protection and advocacy or their disability rights folks as well.  But I would just tell people like, um, a lot of the center for independent living have gone to virtual services as well as the PNAs.  So they're going to respond by phone call or e‑mail, but probably you're not going to be able to go in there.  And then people need to know that their rights even during the national emergency are not put on hold.  You're still entitled to your rights as a person with disability as protected as the A, does A and there are supreme court decisions that uphold that.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Right.  And you know what, you're bringing up such good points.  I wanted to say, Maria, maybe at AAPD, we can put out some type of form because, you know, when the news media, national news media, CNN or whoever it would be, want to talk about this, want to talk about what People with Disabilities during this time it would be great to have leaders such as you two to have information to talk about.  There are some leaders that are going to.  There are so many things that are happening.  I wanted to just mention, for example, remember I brought up mental health.  I am on the board.  And the mental health impacts that are major that they brought up are isolation because that obviously aggravates many psychiatric disabilities and people may have a particularly difficult time during that.  And then as Kelly said, this is from support staff are limited.  And that makes it hard for people.  As Maria was alluding to earlier, anxiety symptoms in general and then what happens in these institutional facilities that people are at.  You know, there are so many ‑‑ they were even talking today what about people with disabilities who are homeless.  But Maria, you have talked a lot about these issues with medication.  What do you tell people to do?  What should they do?

>> MARIA TOWN:  So I think there are a couple of things that they can do.  One is even if you think you have a good supply of your medication, you should try to get a refill and work with your doctor to request an additional refill.  At AAPD, we have developed a form letter that individuals and organizations consent to their state insurance commissioners so that they can change the rules around medication refills at the state level.  And your state insurance commissioner makes those decisions.  And then at the national level and Kelly has been very involved in this, the health has passed this Coronavirus relief package and the senate will have to pass it too.  So you can contact your Senator to make sure that things like access to medication, continuity of services for personal care attendants, et cetera, are included in that package.  Right now we're in phase 2.  If not in phase 2, in phase 3.

One of the things that I've seen is that there's a lot of attention focused on seniors and ‑‑ seniors and older adults are definitely more vulnerable, but one thing that often gets missed is that there are also middle aged People with Disabilities and young People with Disabilities.  So we often have to go back and say this can't just be for people over 65.  We actually need to be broader so that every person with a disability can benefit from some of the emergency support that the federal bills are allowing.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Yeah.  That's why it's important to raise your voice and talk to your Senator.  I also want to commend Senator Bob Casey who is doing so much working on these issues right now.  You know, you can go to his website if you want to read more about that, but I know he's working very hard on moving forward with these issues that Maria is talking about.  I think that we have Perry Jude with us who I called Perry because I want ‑‑ I want her to talk about what is going on also in Pennsylvania.  Perry, are you with us?

>> PERRY:  Joyce, I am.  Thanks for having me.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Thank you for joining us.  And Perry Jude Radfix is the disability rights in Pennsylvania that I am also proud to serve on the board.  What do you have to tell us, Perry?

>> Perry:  So today the Social Security Admins offices are going to be closed to the public for all in‑person services.  And that's starting today.  Now they'll have exceptions for dire needs if the need is telephonic appointment, but everything else is going to have to be done online.  So I think that's going to be a challenge for people with disabilities.  EEOC field offices have temporarily stopped conducting intake interviews.  No walk ins.  So you have to go to the EEOC public portal to schedule an intake appointment by telephone.  And so that's happened this week as well.

Now here in Pennsylvania, we have nearly 100 cases confirmed cases.  And so the governor this week declared the state essentially on locked down.  So all non‑essential businesses have to close.  Now that's put a lot of challenges in front of people with disabilities.  And so the state is taking action.  I was just on a conference call earlier today with the office of developmental programs talking about the steps that they're taking.  And while everybody is interested in helping to flatten the curve, no one is helping with or thinking about the civil rights implication of all of these decisions.  I know that's what you're been talking about today.  That's on the other side of this flattening the curve.  And I think we all want to be helpful in flattening that curve, but no one is thinking about the civil rights implications except us.  So what are they?  So here in Pennsylvania, it's just like in Florida.  Florida was issued the first waver today, the medication waiver.  They permitting the state to waive prior authorizations and alternative settings and to modify their fair hearing and appeals process.  But what I didn't see in that was any thoughts about the systemic issues like what if somebody on Medicaid needed more than a 30‑day refill?  I didn't see anything about that.  So here we have these individual issues that are really systemic and yet nothing about putting people first.  And so Pennsylvania was talking about a waiver to Medicade, to CMS regarding their waiver systems, but yet to nothing about medications and being able to get or authorizing more than 30 days.  So that's a problem, Joyce.  That's a problem.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  That is a ‑‑

>> Perry:  I'm sorry.  Go ahead, Joyce.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  No, no.  Go ahead.

>> Perry:  So the other things are all provider related.  Yes.  We need providers and need them to function well.  But we fought so hard for community participation to get people with disabilities out of day programs and into the communities and now it's been suspended.  Here in Pennsylvania, they suspended community participation.  I get we have to flatten the curve, but whether the civil rights implications of now suspending community participation for people with disabilities that we fought so hard for and what are the implications moving forward?  These are things that the PMA, the protection advocacy system, the Pennsylvania rights, can deal with.  So this just happened today.  Just happened today.  So things are changing on us all of the time, all of the time.  And so we need people to call us in Pennsylvania special education.  They sent people home.  Sent kids home.  That's great.  But all those parents who are working from home has to help their children implement those education plans.  I don't think anybody with children are going to be working a full work day because they're going to be helping their kids implement those education plans and if those kids have special education, IEPs, what sort of support is the school sending home with their kids?  I bet none.  So there are special education issues and they need to be calling people who know something about special education like the protection advocacy network so we can help those parents walk through those very issues.  So in Pennsylvania, our number is 800‑692‑7743.  If you want to find advocacy protection, go to NERG.ORG and they will tell you.  But special education is going to be an emerging issue with COVID‑19.  I have more issues, but I'll stop for there now, Joyce.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Oh, no.  We want to hear the issues.  Kelly Maria, do you have go comments about the information Perry just provided?  Starting with social security.

>> KELLY BUCKLAND:  Well, not sure.  Not sure what to say about it.  That's interesting and helpful information.  It's also going to provide and put a lot of strain on people who need to contact social security.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Yeah.  I'm glad you told us this.  Did that go into effect just now, Perry?

>> Perry:  Starting today.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  How about you, Maria?

>> MARIA TOWN:  I think that ‑‑ it is sort of tension between the desire to flatten the curve in civil rights particularly on social security.  The disability community nationally has been very concerned about social's desire to move hearings and appeals of virtuals.  Social security has tried to shift their appeal process to a virtual system for at least the past few months and AAPD has worked in a coalition to voice our concerns with changes in that process because the things show that with the virtual appeals that individuals with disabilities are less likely to have their benefits affected.  My concern with a lot of these changes is that there will be more to keep it that way and eliminate in person services all together once we get through this.  It creates a lot of failures for people with disabilities.  One thing may be a lack of access to a connection or a data plan, but another major thing a lack of literacy and a lot of processees whether it is something with social security or EEMC is complicated.  It can be even more difficult to navigate when we're doing so through a screen.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Yeah.  That's right.  Hey, Kelly, what do you think about what Perry was talking about with what they're doing with community living?

>> KELLY BUCKLAND:  I'm not sure exactly what you mean, Joyce.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  When she was talking about how they're taking people ‑‑ isn't that what you meant, Perry?  That they're taking people from community centers, People with Disabilities?

>> Perry:  People from the programs and it is something we all wanted to take in the workshop.  How about that?  So but also taking people out of day programs that are thought for community participation and now sending them home.  And now they have nothing to do.  I know ‑‑ they're redeploying staff.  Also in the Florida waiver.  They're talking about taking people if there's an outbreak in maybe the long‑term living or nursing home, there's a license setting and using them to an unlicensed status.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Oh, my.  My oh, my.  I know because I know adult day care centers.  You're right.  They're shut down, but they included people with intellectual disabilities going there for the day to, you know, like if there's a gym there or different activities they're involved in, but also doctors, dentists on site at the facility.  Maria, were you going to say something?

>> MARIA TOWN:  Yes.  One of the disability communities, their concerns has been the institutional bias towards nursing homes and really shifting our services from prioritizing nursing homes and other group homes to focusing on community‑based.  I think one of the things that COVID‑19 outbreak shows that is just how unsafe a nursing home can be and we are learning more and more about the lack of safety protocols and health measures that are in place in thing homes.  They have advocates and families and ‑‑ they try to really shift towards community based settings and services that work for everybody.

>> KELLY BUCKLAND:  I have ‑‑ I have that concern working the opposite way here is really one of the things I was trying to highlight before.  I think the breakdown if people aren't able to get personal care providers or direct support workers, what they're going to end up doing is getting institutionalized.  We have seen that in a number of other disaster or emergency situations where people are institutionalized because the services that they need aren't accessible or aren't really available during an emergency like this.  And I'm afraid that's what is going to happen in this instance, which is why people really need to have back up plans in place because as Maria just said, there is an institutional bias and I'm very much afraid if this causes community services to breakdown, that's more people being institutionalized and put more at risk.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Yes and Kelly, I know how you feel about that because you've always been a national disability advocate to get people out of the nursing homes.  As you said that, I couldn't help but think about that.  This is also with some of the past hurricanes how people ended up being put in nursing homes.  And the question is then:  When did they get out of the nursing home?  So, Perry ‑‑ yeah.  Perry, what do you have to say about that?

>> Perry:  Oh, yeah.  This is a serious issue of what we're going to do about people in nursing homes when there's an outbreak.  I think we have to look at Seattle and see what happened there and take measures so that it doesn't happen in our communities and hope state officials are ‑‑ this is the time to move people into the community instead of in an unlicensed facility.  That's an unbelievable move.  What advocates can be doing is checking in with their state to see what they're preparing because I think the waivers are being done behind closed doors and then the next thing we know is we'll find out what the waiver says because it's been approved by CMS and we don't know what's happening.  So advocates need to be injecting themselves into this process, asking their states what kind of waivers they're asking for and balancing the flattening the curve with the civil rights of people with disability.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Yeah.  That's why I wanted to do this show.  We really have to keep our hand inial of this and know what is going on, on the pulse of this because we have so many things that just start spiraling out of control when it comes to people's civil rights.  For example, one of the questions that was asked for me to ask you on the show today is the ethics and what they were talking about is medical facilities and treating people with disabilities in those centers. 

For example, this would be things such as patient treatment, access to ventilators.  What are going to be the situation with ethics in those areas?  What do you think, Perry?

>> Perry:  The disability civil rights community have been fighting those medical boards for a very long time in making those sorts of decisions without the disability community.  It's been horrific.  They've been horrific decisions.  If you look at Italy, we are very concerned about those decisions being made here and I think it is frightening a lot of people with disabilities.  That's why we need people to call their organizations whether it's APD, your independent living center or the PMA.  People have to know what you're facing so that there can be an intervention.  And sometimes when civil rights or legal organizations intervene, there are better outcomes.  So we have to know if you're facing that decision with your health care providers.  That's the only way we can support you and help you is if we know that's happening to you.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Yeah, Maria, what are we going to do as an organization to just be there from a policy perspective looking at issues such as what we're talking about right now, will you be taking the lead on this on the hill working with other groups, working with Kelly?  What are your plans?

>> MARIA TOWN:  So the answer is all of the above, Joyce.  I think one of the things that's very clear from this show is there are so many issues tied to COVID‑19 and People with Disabilities.  Every organization can be leading something and working to lift up others in coalition.  So we're working in a number of coalitions with advocates both in the disability community and the broader civil rights communities.  One of the things that hasn't come up on this call yet is voting.  We're in the middle of primary season and there's a lot of concern that voter turnout will be suppressed because of fears around the virus and that states that are trying to figure out how to navigate primary elections, um, won't set up systems that will allow people with disabilities to vote.  And so we're trying to figure out voting.  AAPD has recently done some work advocating against the use of quality adjusted life years in federal health programs like Medicaid and Medicare.  And a quality adjusted life year is that measure that's used to often reduce the cost of prescription drugs, but it does that by placing a value on people's lives and often people with disabilities are rated a zero, which means that they're dead or a one.  And it prevents them from getting access to those medications.  And so we are concerned as an organization about similar systems being used to ration out care in this time of COVID and I know one of our board members is helping me work on a letter to the hill right now to insure that they don't use any of those kinds of measures to prioritize care and we are strongly advocating that individuals who would need a ventilator for a condition they deal with on a regular basis will have access to that.

We also are very concerned about the President's comments that states just need to figure it out around ventilators and other forms of health care support.  We really do want to see significant federal leadership on this role and mobilizing some department of dissent resources to accelerate access teachings like ventilators.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Right.  That is ‑‑ that is so important.  Hey, Maria, I want to ask you a question.  If there's some issue going on nationally and someone wants to get that to you, where should they e‑mail that to AAPD?

>> MARIA TOWN:  So they can send it directly to me.  My e‑mail is mtown@aapd.com.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  There is something going on as you are hearing Maria talking and you think oh, my God.  I know this one thing happening.  You need to e‑mail her.  You need to get her that information.  Kelly, how about you?  What is your e‑mail?

>> KELLY BUCKLAND:  It is Kelly@MCIL‑‑ I think also too social distancing doesn't mean social isolation.  So what I'm really trying to say is I hope people will stay in touch with each other by virtual means like through e‑mail and through lots of social media that we have.  I think the mental health things that we were talking about before, I think people need to stay in touch with each other through other means.  I don't think you have to necessarily touch somebody to stay in touch with somebody.  So I think that's fewer interaction is important especially from going through all the stress that we are.  I want to stress people continue to do that.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  I think that's a very excellent point.  As a matter of fact, with the mental health issue, or just someone isolated, what do we ‑‑ one of the things that is being suggested for people with mental held issues, for example, is don't text.  Call.  And if you can, do face time.  This gives you that ability to stay in touch.  You need to stay in touch.  You need to talk to someone.  You need to see someone.  And with technology today and your smart phone, you know you can do that.  So I'm really glad you brought that up because right now, we all need to communicate.  Hey, Perry, how about you in the state of Pennsylvania?  If someone wants to gets in touch with you, what is your e‑mail?

>> Perry:  Yes.  It's prapecic@disabilityrightsta.org.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Okay.  Could you repeat that?

>> Perry:  Yes.  Prapecic@disabilityrightsta.org.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  If there is something happening here, I really feel it is important to get in touch with these great leaders.  Let me tell you with other shows we have coming up, we're going to ‑‑ Perry appears on all the shows, but we're going to have at least 10, 15 minutes where we talk about how this is impacting people and although I couldn't take all these calls today, you know, I wish and hope you will e‑mail me at Jbenderconsult.com.  I want to hear from you and I want ‑‑ next week, I want to have people call in during the 15 minutes with any questions they have today.  The form I chose is for people to e‑mail me liked one question I ask and the questions about mental health.

Before we end the show today, maria, what would you like to leave our listeners as your message today?

>> MARIA TOWN:  I think ‑‑ one of the things that I said earlier, which is, um ‑‑ well, two things, you know, don't know afraid to doubt whether it's to your friends or family who keep talking about how only elderly and vulnerable people are going to get this to your mayors, to your state legislators, to your Senators.  Right now is a critical time for People with Disabilities to advocate for their own needs and the needs of everyone in this community.  And the second thing is just to say it's okay to take a break from the news and to take a break from social media.  It can be again very difficult to hear people constantly referencing that individuals with disabilities are vulnerable.  If you need to take some time to read a book, to look at videos of puppies or cats, it's okay.  It's okay to just take a little bit of a break.  I know that right now everybody is working from home and sometimes it's harder to take a break when you're working from home than when you're in an office.  But remember to take a break and to give your mind a little bit of a break from the news and anxiety that the COVID outbreak produces.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Good advice.  Very good advice.  How about, Kelly?

>> KELLY BUCKLAND:  I think Maria did a very good job of it on lining some of the self‑care things you can do.  But I also think people think because you have to stay home you have to stay in your house.  Get outside, even if it's just in your back yard or your front yard or on the balcony or whatever to just get outside and get some sunshine and breathe some fresh air.  As I said before, I still think even though we do have to do social distancing as much as we can, I think it's important for people to stay in touch with each other and help love and support each other as well.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  That's right.  I agree.  How about you, Perry?  Do you have any last words?

>> Perry:  Advocacy matters, Joyce.  We have to demand that our officials do whatever they can to support People with Disabilities through this pandemic.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  I'm so happy to have you in Pennsylvania.  You are the civil rights passionate person.  You are on it all the time and I would say to everyone that first of all, thank all of you.  These three people are so awesome.  I, Maria Town, Kelly Buckland, CEO of NCIL and Perry Jude, who is our CEO at disability rights Pennsylvania.  And our website, what is the website, Perry Jude?

>> Perry:  It's disabilityrightspa.org.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  We did end every show with a quote and you know, so many people they're in their own world, but they forget there is this other world and there are other people such as people with disabilities that are going through a lot of issues.  I have to use this quote today.  Our theme this year at bender is justice.  And this is a quote we used this passed month from William (inaudible).  He's a British politician and leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade.  He has this quite that says you may choose to look the other way, but can never say again that you did not know.  You know.  You heard the show.  This is Joyce Bender, America's voice where Disability Matters at voice America.com.  Talk to you next week.  Be safe and be kind.