Access Living Vaccine Town Hall, Immigration Victory, Police Use of Force Webinar, Transition Advocacy, and Chicago Taxi Access


January 29, 2021 | by Amber Smock

Access Living Vaccine Town Hall, Immigration Victory, Police Use of Force Webinar, Transition Advocacy, and Chicago Taxi Access

Today we have a roundup of key updates on different topics…the Covid-19 vaccine, immigration issues, education access, transportation. It has been very busy for disability advocates lately!

Wednesday, February 3: Webinar on the Covid-19 Vaccine & Disability

Access Living has set up a virtual Town Hall on what people with disabilities should know about the Covid-19 vaccine, with special guests from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Chicago Department of Public Health, and the Chicago Mayor’s Office on People with Disabilities. This event will be Wednesday February 3, from 3:00-4:30 pm Central time. The event page is at this link; direct registration is at this link.

Important Chicago Covid-19 News:

For those of you who live in Chicago, please note that the City is in Phase 1B of vaccination for people who live/work in Chicago. In Phase 1B, Chicagoans age 65+, specific groups of highest-risk people, and front-line essential workers are eligible for vaccination. The City has set up a new virtual platform called Covid Coach for updates and instructions on how to get tested or vaccinated.

Important Illinois Covid-19 News:

For those of you who live in Illinois, outside the city of Chicago, please note that the State has now also opened to Phase 1B.

  • To learn more about who is in Phase 1A, see this link.
  • To learn more about who is in Phase 1B, see this link. Phase 1B for the State of Illinois is adults age 65+ and frontline essential workers.
  • To find out where you can get vaccinated, see this link.

Please note, Access Living is also continuing to update our Covid-19 Resources webpage at this link. At the top of the page we have compiled key vaccine related links.

We encourage disability advocates to keep communicating to your departments of public health about what people with disabilities need related to the vaccine. They need to hear from you!

Big Win For Immigrants in Chicago:

On January 27, the Chicago City Council overwhelmingly passed a new ordinance to close certain loopholes in the Welcoming City Ordinance. The amendments include closing a loophole that previously allowed Chicago police and federal immigration authorities to share information about immigrants who have been involved with the criminal legal system. The closing of this loophole is an important step for many immigrants in Chicago, including those with disabilities. Access Living’s community organizing group Cambiando Vidas, supported by our Latinx and Immigration Community Organizer Michelle Garcia, was very involved in supporting this fight. Congratulations to our immigrant advocates and allies! Check out this great story on the issue, featuring one of our Cambiando Videos members.

Friday, January 29: Use of Force Webinar:

The community working group to reform use of force policies at the Chicago Police Department is having a webinar this Friday, January 29, from 6-8:30 pm Central. Access Living’s Disability and Incarceration Policy Analyst is part of the working group and will be a panelist. Webinar registration is free and can be found at this link. The webinar will include members of the working group, comprised of community organizers, impacted people, and lawyers representing plaintiff’s on the lawsuits that led to the current Chicago Police Department consent decree.

Illinois Transition Age Students Advocacy:

Remote learning has created major barriers for some transition age students with disabilities who need in-person vocational learning. This is a major concern for those who have or will turn age 22 since the beginning of March 2020. Advocates from Access Living, Legal Council for Health Justice, and Raise Your Hand are looking at various paths that might make these services (or something similar) possible for students in this graduating group. We are taking student/parent contact information in case we need parent statements in the future. Please fill out this form if you are interested in further communication on this matter.

Chicago Taxi Access Under Threat:

Earlier this month, the Chicago Sun-Times ran this story on the PACE Taxi Access Program. The pandemic has caused a huge drop in the availability of taxicabs overall, which is impacting transportation access for Chicagoans with disabilities. According to the city of Chicago, there are currently only 169 wheelchair-accessible taxis, which represents about a 65% drop in the number of cabs that used to be available. This is a major accessibility crisis and one which Access Living is monitoring closely. Ideally….EVERY cab should be accessible!

Please feel free to share this information with fellow community members. Thank you for your commitment to disability advocacy!