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Pandemic Health Disparities Initiative

Purpose of the Initiative

Throughout the pandemic, people with disabilities, especially those from marginalized racial and ethnic minority groups and rural communities faced inequities and a lack of support services during COVID-19. People with disabilities faced barriers to accessible information (Braille, Multicultural, etc.), access to testing and necessary accommodations, and were at increased risk for mortality due to COVID-19. The COVID-19 response plans did not adequately respond to the needs of the disability community.
The purpose of the initiative is to bring together disability stakeholders and healthcare provider stakeholders to discuss the COVID-19 disparities in the disability community. We will develop an accessible media campaign to educate on mitigation efforts on COVID-19. We will report to the PA Department of Health, Findings and Recommendations: COVID-19 Health Disparities Among the Disability Community.


  • Establishment of state and regional cross-sectoral partnerships to align public health, healthcare, disability, and non-health interventions on behalf of the disability community across diverse racial, ethnic, and geographic populations.
  • Education campaign materials to ensure that information regarding healthcare and COVID-19 is accessible and available to individuals with disabilities including non-English speaking populations.
  • Training materials to aid local communities in mitigating the effects of COVID-19, dispelling misinformation, improving trust in the public system, and ensuring that people with disabilities (across diverse racial, ethnic, and geographic populations) receive equitable access to COVID-19 prevention, mitigation, and support services.
  • Report to the PA Department of Health, Findings and Recommendations: COVID-19 Health Disparities Among the Disability Community, including a Health Equity Plan.

Desired Outcomes
Adoption and implementation of the Findings and Recommendations report recommendations will result in:

  • Improved state and local health department capacity and services to prevent and control COVID-19 infection (or transmission);
  • Improved and increased testing and contact tracing; and
  • Reduced COVID-19-related health disparities for individuals with disabilities, including those in racial and ethnic minority groups and living in rural communities.

How to Get Involved

  • Attend Listening Tours to make sure all voices are heard and all stories are told about experiences during the pandemic.
  • Join the Stakeholder Workgroup

The group meets quarterly to address specific topics with The Arc of Pennsylvania’s experienced by service providers, community leaders, first responders and emergency management personal, medical and mental health professionals and interested community members.

Click here to register to join the Stakeholder Workgroup. Register with The Arc of Pennsylvania to join the workgroup and you will be able to access meeting notes and future initiative information.

The workgroup is using the Regional Community Work Group Sign-up, you should have received an invitation to access the shared site (check your spam/junk folder). Please email Nancy Shirley, if you did not receive an invite. The registration link is available here and you will be invited. Our Region is York and Adams Counties.

Contact Alicia Zienkiewicz, Director of Community Services of The Arc of York and Adams Counties, to get the zoom link for the Workgroup meeting and dates/times.

  • Assist with Initiative surveys, and media campaigns to distribute CDC guidelines and information throughout community contacts and networks.
  • Assist self-advocates to attend the Listening Tours or Workgroup to bring their stories and experiences, ensuring their voices are heard concerning the effects, barriers and disparities experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • View and share CDC information for individuals with disabilities: Share CDC Resources for people with disabilities via email, social media, print. This information is available here and here.

Research from the past year can be found at the following links:

Full Version English
Full Version Spanish
Plain Language Version English
Plain Language Version Spanish

This project is funded through the Pennsylvania Department of Health and
Human Services and the Pennsylvania Center for Disease Control

Main Office
497 Hill Street
York, PA 17403
Phone: 717-846-6589
Fax: 717-852-8842

Highland Center for Vocational Services
520 N. Highland Avenue
York, PA 17404
Phone: (717) 846-6589

Hanover Office
1 Center Square
Suite 100
Hanover, PA 17331
Phone: 717-846-6589

Biglerville Office
25 Franklin Street
Biglerville, PA 17307

Gettysburg Office
14 Deatrick Drive
Gettysburg, PA 17325