2021 Annual Report: Meeting the Need
Vaccine Equity and Outreach
The start of 2021 marked the beginning of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in the United States. From the start, FREED joined with partner organizations across the state to demand that individuals with disabilities and chronic health conditions, those living in congregate settings, and caregivers have priority access to the vaccine.
We were successful. On February 12th, the Newsom administration expanded eligibility as we had been demanding, effective March 15.
We continued our advocacy, both statewide and locally, to press for increased access to the vaccine, ensuring that local vaccination sites were accessible and calling for mobile vaccine clinics for people who cannot leave their homes. We also publicized local vaccine clinics and individually reached out to consumers with information on how they could get vaccinated.
Expanding Voting Access
Our Disability Community Advocate co-chaired the Voting Access & Advocacy Workgroup of the Disability Organizing Network. Under his leadership, the workgroup launched a county election office survey. This was a tool designed to not only gather data from counties across the state about how the November 3, 2020 Presidential Election went for voters with disabilities, but to encourage connection between local systems change advocates and their county election offices. Our Disability Community Advocate also presented on a webinar hosted jointly by California Secretary of State Dr. Sherley Weber and Disability Rights California, debriefing how the November 2020 election went for voters with disabilities in the state.
Locally, FREED continues to be an active member of the Voter Accessibility Advisory Committees in Nevada and Yuba Counties. We maintain a page on our website with information specific to voters with disabilities in our catchment area. Ahead of the gubernatorial recall election in September, we produced a segment for the KVMR Evening News on what voters with and without disabilities needed to know in order to cast their ballots. Nevada County.
Master Plan for Aging (and Disability)
Our 2021 Our Community: An Aging & Disability Conference focused on jumpstarting local implementation of the Master Plan for Aging in Nevada, Yuba, Sutter, and Placer Counties. Over one hundred people attended the Conference, which covered the big picture of the 10-year Master Plan for Aging, the more specific MPA Local Playbook, and next steps for us to take in our local communities and jurisdictions to realize the goals of the MPA.
Speakers included legislators, community partners, and experts in the fields of community living, urban/rural development, aging, and disability. Breakout rooms by topic and county allowed for conversation among Conference participants.
Following the conference, Nevada County hired a consultant to drive MPA work there, and there is interest in starting local implementation efforts in Yuba/Sutter.
FREED staff also joined other advocates from the Disability Organizing Network in actively participating in the LTSS4All Grassroots Coalition, a statewide, cross-sector campaign for increased Long Term Services and Supports in California.
Throughout the year, we met with the offices of our state representatives, educating them on the needs of people with disabilities and older adults and advocating for increased funding for Long Term Services and Supports. We held these meetings with partners from the California Collaborative on Long Term Services and Supports and the California Alliance for Retired Americans. In addition, FREED staff joined a California delegation of disabled advocates who met with the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein as part of the National Council on Independent Living’s virtual Day on the Hill.
Disability Rap, FREED’s monthly radio show, continued to thrive this year. With the support of KVMR, we designed a logo for the show, which we are using on all of our online presences. In addition to airing the show on KVMR and publishing the audio on our website and the Disability Rap podcast, we are now releasing transcripts of the show, which makes it more accessible and searchable. In 2021, we covered hospitalization during the coronavirus pandemic, calls for vaccine equity, the intersection of disability and LGBTQ identities, emergency preparedness, the phaseout of the subminimum wage in California, and more.