A resilient community: Tackling COVID-19’s impact on people with disability

back of man standing using crutches, Aceh province, Indonesia

The coronavirus pandemic has created hardship for many; imagine the added challenge for those living with a disability.


“During the pandemic, we are obliged to wear a mask. It is such a constraint to me because it hinders me in reading lip movements and communicating with a customer. They have difficulty in understanding my needs and not everybody wants to take off their masks when speaking to me.”

This report takes a detailed look into the everyday lives of women and men with a disability in the Indonesian province of South Sulawesi and finds that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on their social interaction, and their ability to continue with studies or earn income. It has affected their sense of self and underscores a call for more to be done to include people with a disability in policymaking decisions.

Read the full “A resilient community: Tackling COVID-19’s impact on people with disability” report here

The research builds on a 2020 survey by the Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO), which found that up to 80 percent of those living with a disability had lost their income, while 60 to 90 percent struggled with learning, especially when having to use smartphone apps and other online methods. The disability community was also being excluded from the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of COVID-19 mitigation and recovery.

This report also looks at how COVID-19 has disproportionately affected women and girls with disability; for example, many are expected to do the food shopping during increased restrictions.

This localised perspective is designed to drill down into the challenges and identify solutions that policymakers and civil society could apply to their own settings.

It is written with the understanding that government resources have been stretched during the pandemic and, importantly, recommendations are provided that can be implemented with minimal or no cost. Further, it notes that adopting a mindset of committing to inclusion and working with those with a disability can be as valuable to improving lives as funding schemes.

The report also looks at the coping strategies that have been adopted by individuals, and the assistance provided by organisations, and outlines how to support them through policies and programs.

The report makes seven key recommendations on government priorities to assist people with a disability:

  1. Improve communication methods so the delivery of critical information on health and safety includes the needs of those with speech, hearing or sight impairments.
  2. Expand government subsidy schemes to ensure people with disabilities continue to have access to basic services such as water, electricity and communications.
  3. Expand the timeframes for access to cash and other financial assistance until people with disabilities can regain their usual incomes.
  4. Provide food delivery services including essential supplies for people who are unable to shop for themselves.
  5. Collect comprehensive data to better target the distribution of aid and organisational support.
  6. Liaise with disability organisations who are bearing the load and underpin their efforts with funding and training.
  7. Incorporate specific disability and gender policies into the work of the National Agency for Disaster Countermeasure.