COVID language guide for disability community launched

Lake Sun Leader
covidvaccine.mo.gov

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) along with the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council released a new resource, the “Missouri Plain Language Guide for People with Disabilities, their Families and Caregivers,” on COVID-19 and the vaccine.

Through this partnership, the new guide will ensure that important information related to COVID-19 and vaccine access is more accessible to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and others with disabilities affecting reading, comprehension and other cognitive functions.

“After reading this new Missouri Plain Language Guide, I was very impressed with two very important things: 1) the amount of important and vitally necessary information that it contains; and 2) how plain and understandable the format is, that was used to present it, without diluting any of the valuable information that it conveys to the reader. I believe that this will prove to be a very valuable tool for persons with disabilities and many others,” said Cathy Enfield, Chairperson and Self-Advocate, Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council.

“There is so much information available about COVID-19 and vaccines, that it could be hard to navigate through the information. We value the collaboration with DHSS, to provide accurate information in a plain language format that is accessible to so many who experience disabilities. We look forward to continuing this important work to ensure the disability community has information to make decisions about their health,” said Vicky Davidson, Executive Director, Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council.

People with disabilities, their family members and caregivers have been eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the earliest phases of Missouri’s vaccine rollout. Currently, any Missourian age 12 and older is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Since the beginning of 2021, DHSS and the Missouri Advisory Committee on Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution have been focused on deploying new strategies and resources to meet the disability community where they are -- this new guide is a resource to support Missouri’s disability community and those individuals, family members and caregivers who support them. 

“Since day one at DHSS, our goal has been to ensure Missouri’s most vulnerable, people with disabilities and those who support them (i.e., their families, caregivers and disability service providers) were at the front of the line to receive the free vaccine throughout our vaccine roll-out process. Throughout the year, we have also been working to deploy new strategies and resources to meet the disability community where they are. Our new plain language guide is an additional resource for Missourians with disabilities and those who support them,” said Sara Hart Weir, co-chair of the Missouri Advisory Committee on Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution.

Enfield added, “We simply need information to be supplied in a clear, plain and understandable way. As Chair of the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council, I am proud of the work that our members and staff did on the document. I applaud their efforts and the efforts of all those who were involved.”

If you or someone you know is unable to visit a COVID-19 vaccination clinic without assistance, please call the COVID-19 Hotline at 877-435-8411 and press option 4 to be routed directly to your local Area Agency on Aging to make a vaccine appointment. You can also register individuals for the vaccine by visiting Missouri’s COVID-19 website, MOStopsCovid.com. COVID-19 Hotline hours of operation are Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m.-2 p.m. (Hotline is open on Saturdays through until June 11.) Individuals are encouraged to call soon to ensure their names are added to the list.