Pop-Up Writing Opportunity:

Ann Arbor CIL
Mar 24 · 4 min read

Disabled and Chronically Ill — Surviving and Thriving in the Time of Coronavirus and COVID-19

Historically, disabled and chronically ill individuals may be invisible or even viewed as disposable in the time of health crises. We are triaged to being seen as higher risk, told to cancel our lives and stay at home, have our caregivers and PAs cancel on us out of fear, and have the very materials we need to live our daily lives bought out and hoarded by non-disabled people. However, disability and illness is not inherently a “problem” or “risk”. As disabled and chronically ill communities, we often have deeply embodied skills that allow us to connect and survive, even thrive, in these times. From mutual aid groups to care collectives, skills on how to play board games virtually to knowing how to manage isolation for long periods of time, and of course, the very concepts of universal design and accommodations, have all arisen from our communities.

We, the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living, and Dr. Shanna Kattari (a disabled social work scholar), put forth this call for creations of writing, art, and more, to allow our communities to share their stories about how we, disabled and chronically ill individuals, survive and thrive in the time of coronavirus and COVID19.

Essays, poems, videos, and artwork may address the following questions as well as relevant topics not listed below.

  • How do your experiences of disability and/or chronic illness influence your ability to self-isolate, your ability to get the resources that you need, and how others treat you during the current COVID-19 crisis?
  • How are experiences of disability and/or chronic illness entangled with other marginalized and underrepresented identities, particularly in navigating the COVID-19 crisis?
  • How do disabled and chronically ill individuals support and uplift one another in this challenging time? What are ways that mutual aid and disability justice work is evidenced in your own community(ies), whether in the “real” world or online?
  • What does it mean to be “out” around disability or chronic illness in the current environment? How do different audiences affect experiences of disclosure, passing, covering, or masking?
  • How might your existing skill sets be revisited or reconceptualized to take into account the resilience of disability/chronic illness in the time of Coronavirus and COVID-19?
  • Given the seriousness of COVID-19 amongst individuals who are disabled and chronically ill, what else should be considered when developing the support, connection, and expectations placed on the disability community and our community as a whole? How can we reframe disability and chronic illness away from solely being seen as a risk factor?
  • There is no single definition of disability or chronic illness; how does such a definition emerge for you, in your experience, in relation to others, etc.? How can such fluid definitions be used to offer support, connection, and community in response to the current state of the world?

Please submit your work to skattari@umich.edu with SURVIVE AND THRIVE SUBMISSION in the subject line. Submissions will be assessed, accepted/edited, and published on a rolling basis on our shared Medium site.

Writing should be 1,000 words or less. Videos/audio should be 10 minutes or less and include captions. Artwork should be a moderately high resolution to be viewable on various screens and devices, and should include an image description.

Please include your name (however you want it published), a short 100 word bio, and links to any social media accounts you’d like included.

All who participate will be entered in a giveaway for Meijer gift cards, donated by the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living.

*A Note About Language: The Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living is and has been a long-time supporter of person-first language (i.e. person with a disability). However, we also recognize that language changes with time and there are many people with disabilities/disabled people who now prefer to use identity-first language. This post was written in collaboration with Dr. Shanna Kattari using identity-first language because of these changing dynamics. Whether you prefer person-first language or identity-first language what is important is that you are addressed in the way that you choose and that it is done respectfully. For more information on this topic start here: https://thebodyisnotanapology.com/magazine/i-am-disabled-on-identity-first-versus-people-first-language/

Centers for Independent Living

COVID-19 has had a profound effect on our communities across the nation. If you are a person with a disability, have family members or friends with disabilities, or are working with and on behalf of an individual with a disability and could use some assistance with resources and support, Centers for Independent Living are available as a resource for you.

If you live in the Michigan counties of Livingston, Monroe or Washtenaw you can reach out to the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living (www.annarborcil.org) at info@aacil.org or call us at 734 971 0277 for our Ann Arbor office or 734 682 5271 for our Monroe office.

If you live somewhere else in Michigan you can find your CIL here: http://www.dnmichigan.org/cil-directory/

And if you live outside of Michigan you can find your CIL here: https://www.ilru.org/projects/cil-net/cil-center-and-association-directory

Ann Arbor CIL

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The mission of the Ann Arbor CIL is to empower the lives of people with disabilities and to advocate for a more inclusive community for all. www.annarborcil.org

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