Gregg Kelley, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
Steven Hollman, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, November 18, 2022, Blind District residents and the District of Columbia Council of the Blind resolved their lawsuit against the District of Columbia Department of Health (“DC Health”) for failing to make the District’s at-home COVID testing program, Test Yourself DC, accessible to individuals with vision impairments. As a result of the settlement, the District will maintain an accessible Test Yourself DC program that includes in-home testing assistance. This service is critically important: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, five percent of District residents have a disability related to their vision. Despite being less than half of the District population, Black residents make up seventy-five percent of the persons with disabilities and are disproportionately impacted by diseases related to vision loss, including diabetes. Black residents are also more than twice as likely to sicken and die from COVID-19 as white residents.
Following Plaintiffs complaint in June 2022, the District expanded its Test Yourself DC program to include in-home testing assistance for District residents who, due to a disability, need help obtaining or administering at-home COVID-19 tests. The District also updated its Coronavirus website to include screen-reader accessible instructions for each at-home test the District offers through its test distribution locations. And, DC Health has conducted outreach to various organizations that serve District residents with vision impairments notifying them of the availability of in-home testing assistance appointments and how to request them.
District residents with disabilities can now call 1-855-363-0333 to schedule an appointment with DC Health to have a test delivered and administered in their home by a healthcare professional. They can also access more information here: Test Yourself Express Rapid Antigen Tests | coronavirus (dc.gov).
Rev. Ray Raysor, President of the DC Council of the Blind, stated: “When there are policies that effect persons with disabilities, specifically blind consumers, they need to be considered at the beginning of the planning, not as an afterthought.”
Steven Hollman, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, LLP observed: “It is heartening to see the District acknowledge that the needs of the disability community must be considered when we
formulate and implement health policy. The poet Gwendolyn Brooks reminds us that ‘we are each other’s magnitude and bond.’”
Maggie Hart, Senior Counsel at The Washington Lawyers’ Committee said: “I am glad the District recognized that all residents deserve equal access to COVID testing. The steps the District has taken will protect the public health and should be replicated in other jurisdictions.”
Counsel for this case include Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, LLP and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs.
About the District of Columbia Council of the Blind (DCCB): DCCB is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, membership in which is open to blind, visually impaired and sighted individuals. It advocates for full independence and equality of opportunity for all blind and visually impaired residents of the nation’s capital and surrounding metropolitan areas. DCCB is a state affiliate of the American Council of the Blind. Learn more by visiting www.dccounciloftheblind.org.
About Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP: Sheppard Mullin is a full-service Global 100 firm with more than 900 attorneys in 15 offices located in the United States, Europe and Asia. Since 1927, industry-leading companies have turned to Sheppard Mullin to handle corporate and technology matters, high-stakes litigation and complex financial transactions. In the U.S., the firm’s clients include almost half of the Fortune 100. For more information, please visit www.sheppardmullin.com.
About the Washington Lawyers’ Committee: Founded in 1968, The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs works to create legal, economic and social equity through litigation, client and public education and public policy advocacy. While we fight discrimination against all people, we recognize the central role that current and historic race discrimination plays in sustaining inequity and recognize the critical importance of identifying, exposing, combatting and dismantling the systems that sustain racial oppression. For more information, please visit https://www.washlaw.org or call 202-319-1000. Follow us on Twitter at @WashLaw4CR.