Changes to BPDD and our COVID-19 Response
Developmental Disability Councils play a powerful role in response to COVID-19 in ensuring that people with disabilities, their families and their support networks are not left behind. Wisconsin’s Board for People with Developmental Disabilities has fluidly shifted much of our work to shape COVID-19 related state policies and support communities around the state to promote the health, safety and connections of people with disabilities who are at increased risk of infection, serious complications, and heightened health and safety risks created by isolation and lack of supports.
BPDD has quickly switched from planning in-person gatherings to virtual platforms, while supporting people with disabilities who have not used this technology before.
- Disability Advocacy Day that typically draws upwards of 400 people each year was the first event to switch to a virtual format with 1,392 people engaged.
- Partners in Policymaking switched to an abbreviated live Zoom session that included speakers and activities while retaining full attendance.
- The Employment First Conference that draws 300 participants is using a virtual format with sessions on how to use technology to provide remote employment supports, how to lead at a time of change and updates on providing employment services and supports in the COVID-19 environment. Registration fees have been eliminated for self advocates and their family members. An online virtual marketplace will allow microenterprise vendors to continue selling their products at the conference. An Essential Worker video being created with Wisconsin’s Managed Care Organizations will be shown to highlight people with disabilities continuing to work through the COVID crisis.
BPDD has developed a databank with close to 10,000 contacts and an active social media presence that allows us to quickly get information and resources into the hands of the disability community.
- BPDD and its partners in the WI Disability Vote Coalition (WDVC) hosted 4 webinars for more than 150 people on COVID-19 and Voting to address the fast-changing rules around Wisconsin’s Spring Election, help voters understand their rights, how to vote absentee and stay safe if voting in person.
- People First Wisconsin, the statewide self-advocacy network supported through a grant from our Council, is working with all 21 chapters on how to have effective Zoom meetings. The Executive Director, a self-advocate herself, sends a weekly letter to members to keep them updated and keep their spirits up.
- BPDD’s Self-Determination You Tube Channel, which features 4 dynamic self-advocates co-hosting segments that feature other self-advocates, developed 3 new videos to help people cope with COVID-19, including how to stay healthy, safe, and avoid emotional isolation. Segments are now being taped using Zoom and Facetime, which has proven to be a more cost-effective way to keep the channel going with more frequent and fresh material.
- As a result of additional barriers facing Ho-Chunk tribal members whose children have disabilities, BPDD is hiring a Family Navigator to provide culturally sensitive and intense resource coordination to up to 19 tribal families in Wisconsin. These families are not connected to formal services and supports and many of them were already experiencing poverty and food/housing insecurity prior to COVID-19.
BPDD has taken a lead role in reaching out to the Governor and state Legislature to shape the state’s emergency waivers, funding and policy protocols and the unique issues facing people with disabilities during this pandemic. Press releases, press conferences, action alerts, recommendations, surveys and Letters to the Governor about COVID policies and the impact of COVID on people with disabilities can be found at http://www.survivalcoalitionwi.org/.
- Many disability service providers responded to the pandemic by offering virtual Home and Community Based
Services (HCBS). To evaluate these services and to identify best practices and outcomes, BPDD partnered with
the Waisman Center’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities to design and coordinate an
evaluation project. 15 service providers participated.
Wisconsin’s Living Well COVID-19 Toolkit
BPDD’s Living Well project has created a COVID 19 Toolkit: Stay Healthy, Stay Safe, Stay Connected for people with disabilities, families, caregivers and providers. The toolkit includes fillable forms, tips, links to information and activities in sections; how to stay healthy, safe and connected. The toolkit contains a Stay at Home fillable plan and a healthcare form. The Living Well project also created several rights documents on living situations, employment, and re-opening in plain language for people with disabilities. The project premiered Living Well Wednesday every week since the beginning of April. The topics have included the toolkit, rights, employment, voting, re-opening, and virtual services.
More from the Living Well COVID-Toolkit
Make sure you have everything you need to be safe at home. Communicate with the trusted people in your life about your plan and your needs. Download the My Safe Home Plan Below
Most people (about 80%) get better without needing special treatment from the hospital. Its good to have a health plan, just in case. This document has tips on what you can do before and while you are sick to stay safe.
Despite everything going on during COVID-19, you have rights that don’t change. We have worked with the Managed Care Organizations to put together a sheet for you and one for providers that list the rights you still have even in this difficult time.
We have put together a Frequently Asked Questions sheet with a list of questions around Saftey, Heallth, Employment and Benefits during COVID-19. You can download the FAQ by clicking the button.
Facilities and providers are beginning to re-open and resume services. To do that safely, while protecting the health of participants and ensuring their rights, there are some important factors to consider. View our Reopening Resource Guide.
To go along with the COVID-19 Resource Toolkit, our Living Well team held virtual learning sessions on each of the sections. In these videos staff and partner agencies show where you can download the toolkit and stay Healthy, Safe and Connected during the pandemic.
- Learn how to keep yourself healthy from the Coronavirus and what to do if you do get sick. Go through the “My Safer at Home Plan” to be sure you have everything you need to stay healthy.
- Learn how to stay safe in your home and your rights. Learn how to tell someone if you are abused and neglected and to make a plan of action if you feel unsafe. Find out what other resources are out there to help you.
- Learn how to stay connected during this time to your family and friends. Learn what is social distancing and safer at home. Get ideas on activities you can do to feel better, learn something new, and keep yourself busy.
Self-Determination YouTube Channel
BPDD’s Self-Determination You Tube Channel, which features 4 dynamic self-advocates co-hosting segments that feature other self-advocates, developed 3 new videos to help people cope with COVID-19, including how to stay healthy, safe, and
avoid emotional isolation. Segments are now being taped using Zoom and Facetime, which has proven to be a more cost-effective way to keep the channel
going with more frequent and fresh material.
The Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations is a cross-disability coalition of more than 40 state and local organizations and groups. For more than 20 years, Survival has been focused on changing and improving policies and practices that support people with disabilities of all ages to be full participants in community life. During the pandemic, Survival Coalition has sent press releases, held press conferences, sent action alerts, policy recommendations, surveys and letters to the Governor about COVID policies and the impact of COVID on people with disabilities.