Sustaining Services for Survivors with Disabilities During COVID-19

Blue magnified viral cells of COVID-19


With the global rise of COVID-19, survivors with disabilities are finding themselves in increasingly vulnerable positions. Not only are people with disabilities more at risk of contracting COVID-19, but they are also more likely to rely on support services that make social distancing nearly impossible. On top of that increased risk, they are more likely to experience victimization, particularly in times of unrest and isolation. Compounding all of these factors, they are less likely to get connected to services because of barriers. For survivors with disabilities, the social, physical, and resource barriers to receiving services may feel insurmountable because of this interconnecting group of challenges. However, there are advocates and individuals with disabilities across the country who are working to remove these barriers and improve services for survivors with disabilities. Their work is now more complicated because of COVID-19.

Survivors with disabilities are more vulnerable to COVID-19, its symptoms, and after-effects and must navigate complex and interconnecting roadblocks. 

For instance:

  • Social distancing is difficult to impossible when someone relies on personal care attendants and/or frequent medical appointments.
  • An overrun healthcare system makes it more difficult for people with disabilities to receive life-saving care and more difficult for trauma survivors to find medical resources.
  • Survivors with disabilities may experience greater isolation as their limited avenues for interaction continue to close.

To help service providers navigate COVID-19 and its impact on survivors with disabilities, the Center on Victimization and Safety is collecting resources on prevention, managing the spread of COVID-19, and addressing advocacy needs. We have also included a news section at the end of this page with relevant discussions around domestic violence, sexual assault, people with disabilities, and COVID-19.

We will continue to update the following list of resources. If you are aware of additional resources, particularly resources specific to survivors with disabilities, please email Ashley Brompton at

Sustaining Services for Survivors with Disabilities - Virtual Strategy and Listening Sessions 

The Center on Victimization and Safety at the Vera Institute of justice is hosting a series of listening sessions and strategy sessions to leverage the collective wisdom of the advocates within victim services and the disability fields. These engagements will provide opportunities to surface the challenges facing survivors with disabilities and identify solutions. We believe that the collective wisdom and creative-problem solving within our fields is needed now more than ever.

Listening Session Recordings 

Strategy Session Recordings

Resources for Service Providers 

COVID-19: Coalition Guidance for Programs – a tip sheet with information for Coalitions to use in providing technical assistance or guidance to member programs.

Preventing and Managing the Spread of COVID-19 Within Domestic Violence Programs – information and resources for domestic violence shelters on preventing and managing COVID-19.

Using Technology to Communicate with Survivors During a Public Health Crisis – information on using technology to communicate with survivors during COVID-19.

ASAN COVID-19 Case Tracker – The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network’s COVID-19 case tracker combines information from news articles and state & local government reports, to give us the most complete picture possible of cases of COVID-19 in people with disabilities living in congregate settings.

Resources for Survivors with Disabilities 

Important Things to Know About COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – a plain language tip sheet created by Brandeis University that reviews basic facts about COVID-19, including how it is spread and how to respond if symptoms appear.

COVID-19 Information By and For People with Disabilities – a plain language guide created by Green Mountain Self-Advocates that reviews information about COVID-19.

Action Steps for Attendant Service Users in Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – a guide on steps individuals who use attendant services can take to ensure they are safe and able to maintain necessary services.

Managing Stress and Anxiety – a fact sheet on how to manage stress and anxiety during COVID-19.

Staying Safe During COVID-19 – information for survivors who may be experiencing domestic violence during COVID-19.

Coronavirus and Our Community: Resources and Recommendations for People with Developmental Disabilities and their Families – resources on COVID-19 for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Some resources are California specific.