Resources for People with Disabilities

People with disabilities (PwD) and/or certain ongoing health problems, especially people who have problems with their lungs or with fighting off illness, are at a higher risk of getting very sick if they get COVID-19. The Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) has put together this list of resources to help you get your basic needs met during this public health crisis.


Together we can keep our most vulnerable residents safe and healthy, both physically and mentally, by taking specific steps. The Cambridge Public Health Department has listed information about COVID-19 prevention, symptoms, testing, and care at

  • If you or a loved one have a fever of 100.4˚F or higher, cough or shortness of breath, it is very important that you contact your doctor or primary healthcare provider for guidance.
  • If you do not have a primary healthcare provider or you have general questions about COVID-19, you can also call the Massachusetts COVID-19 Information Line at 2-1-1. 
  • If you are having a medical or mental health emergency, call or text 9-1-1 immediately.

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the CCPD office is closed until further notice. You can contact them with general disability-related questions by leaving a voicemail at (617) 349-4692 or emailing at Please remember that CCPD staff are unable to give any medical or legal advice.


To download a PDF-version of these resources, click here.


Important Information & Resources

Finding Accessible Information

Finding Information on COVID-19 in a Format that is Accessible to You

  • Live captioning of Cambridge City Council meetings is available through CART (communication access realtime translation) online in order to provide communication access for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing. The captions will be streamed on a dedicated webpage, separate from the video feed of the meeting. Unfortunately, due to technical limitations, CART will only be available online. See for instructions for viewing the meetings with CART.
    •  City Council meetings are generally held every Monday at 5:30 p.m., excluding holidays and Council recesses.
    • The meeting agenda and video feed, as well as transcripts of past meetings, can be found on the City's Open Meeting Portal
  • Green Mountain Self Advocates has developed the following two guides forPwD, using plain language that is easy to understand:
  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a series of videos with ASL and closed captioning on information regarding COVID-19, including how you can stay safe, how parents can support children, suggested coping strategies, and more. Visit their YouTube Channel at
  • The National Association for the Deaf has informational videos about COVID-19 in ASL and with captions:
  • The Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) has created a Coronavirus Visual Tool to assist Medical Professionals and Deaf and hard of hearing individuals to communicate better during medical appointments. There is both a large print version, as well as one that is screen-reader accessible. It is also provided in Spanish.
  • Information for people who are at higher risk for COVID-19 can be found on the CDC’s website.
  • The Administration for Community Living (ACL) has helpful information on what older adults and PwD need to  know regarding COVID-19, planning, preventing illness, and more.

Civil Rights & Non-Discrimination During COVID-19

Civil Rights & Non-Discrimination During COVID-19

  • MA Attorney General Healey Issues Guidance on Disability Rights During COVID-19 Pandemic, including on the
    following topics:
    • Workplace Rights
    • Healthcare Rights
    • Public Accommodations (grocery stores, retail establishments, restaurants, etc.)
    • Reasonable Accommodations
    • The AG's Civil Rights Division urges individuals with disabilities who feel their rights have been violated to call the hotline at 617-963-2917 or file a complaint online.
  • The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a notice reminding entities such as state and local governments and healthcare facilities that they cannot discriminate against people with disabilities. For example:
    • People with disabilities cannot be denied medical care on the basis of assumptions about their quality of life or how worthy their lives are of saving.
    • Government officials, healthcare providers and other covered entities must provide effective communication for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or who have other disabilities affecting communication.
    • The needs of PwD must be included in emergency planning.
  • This notice also provides information on HIPAA healthcare privacy rules during this public health emergency
  • If you believe that a covered entity violated your civil rights, conscience and religious freedom, or health information privacy rights, you may file a complaint at

Food Resources & Special Grocery Store Hours

Food Resources & Special Grocery Store Hours


Cambridge residents who are over 60, immunocompromised, or have a disability and do not have a friend or relative that can go to a food pantry on their behalf, should apply to Food for Free’s Home Delivery Program:


As of March 23, grocery stores in Massachusetts are required to provide alternative hours for people over 60 in order to limit their potential exposure to COVID 19. Several local grocery stores are also providing special hours to people who are immunocompromised, who have disabilities, or who are otherwise at high risk for COVID-19, even if they are under the age of 60:

  • Brothers Market, located at 1 Broadway, is dedicating 7:00-8:00 a.m. every day as a shopping hour for senior citizens and people with disabilities.
  • Stop & Shop, which has locations on McGrath Highway and Alewife Brook Parkway, will open exclusively for people over 60 and anyone with a weakened immune system each day from 6:00 a.m. – 7:30 a.m.
  • Star Market, which has locations in Porter Square, on Beacon Street, on Mt. Auburn St., and on McGrath Highway, will open on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. for senior citizens and other at-risk populations, such as pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems.
  • Trader Joes, which has locations at 211 Alewife Brook Parkway and 748 Memorial Drive, will open every day from 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. to anyone 60 or over and customers who with disabilities or who are immunocompromised.
  • Whole Foods, which has three locations in Cambridge does not have special hours for PwD under 60, but all of their Cambridge locations are offering curbside pick-up of grocery orders.

Personal Care Attendants/Assistants (PCAs)

Personal Care Attendants/Assistants (PCAs)

Information for MassHealth Members

Information for MassHealth Members:


Mass Health is a provider for many People with Disabilities and is providing extra coverage for members during the COVID-19 crisis. Here is important information to be aware of:

  • You will not lose your MassHealth coverage during the COVID-19 national emergency, even if you received a letter in the mail stating that your coverage is ending on or after March 18.
  • MassHealth covers testing and treatment for all coverage types and health plans.
  • During the COVID-19 outbreak, MassHealth is covering telehealth services for both physical and behavioral health when appropriate.
  • MassHealth is also allowing early refills and 90-day supplies of medications, as well as medication delivery, during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • As a MassHealth member, you can receive comprehensive behavioral health care, including services delivered over the phone, via live video, or other telehealth platforms.

Mental Health Resources

Mental Health Resources

  • If you are experiencing a crisis, the National Disaster Distress Helpline is available with 24/7 emotional support and crisis counseling for anyone experiencing distress or other mental health concerns. Calls (1-800-985-5990) and texts (text TalkWithUs to 66746) are answered by trained counselors who will listen to your concerns, explore coping and other available supports, and offer referrals to community resources for follow-up care and support
  • Information on maintaining Emotional Health & Well-Being During the COVID-19 Outbreak is available on the State’s website.  
  • The Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL) is hosting virtual social groups, open to anyone with a disability.
  • Many health insurers, including MassHealth, are covering both mental and medical appointments that are done by phone or a video platform. If you have private health insurance, check to see if they are providing this coverage. If you already have mental health providers, reach out to them to see if they are providing phone appointments.
  • If you need help finding a mental health provider in your area, visit the Network of Care.  
    McLean Hospital has a number of online resources to help community members practice good self-care and maintain their mental health, including on combatting loneliness; how to speak with children on what’s going on; reducing anxiety; working for home; and a lot more.
  • You can also access remote support through Recovery Learning Communities (RLCs), which provide 1-on-1 peer support and peer groups. 
  • If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, you can call the Department of Public Health’s helpline at (800) 327-5050 or visit

The Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL) Resources

The Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL) Resources

BCIL is a non-profit organization that provides individual services and systemic advocacy across a number of areas critical to people with disabilities, including housing, healthcare, employment, long-term care, transportation, adaptive technology, communications, civil rights law, and education.

BCIL has many COVID-19 resources for PwD.

If you are in need of services you can visit BCIL’s website at or call BCIL at 617-338-6665 or 617-338-6662 TTY. You can also email BCIL directly at

Abuse, Neglect, Domestic Violence, & Sexual Assault Resources for PwD

Abuse, Neglect, Domestic Violence, & Sexual Assault Resources for PwD

This information is provided by the Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL):

The COVID pandemic has altered how people are living—less interaction with others, more isolation, less income, and more stresses in some cases. Such situations can result in neglect, abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault. If this is happening to you or someone you know, you can contact the resources below or BCIL, and they will assist you to get the support you may need from one of these resources.

  • If you suspect abuse or neglect of a person with disabilities, please contact the following agency for their age group:
    • Ages birth-17: The Department of Children and Families at 1-800-792-5200 (for all children, not just those with disabilities)
    • Ages 18-59: The Disabled Persons Protection Commission hotline at 1-800-426-9009 (voice) or 1-888-822-0350 (TTY)
    • Ages 60+: The Executive Office of Elder Affairs at 1-800-922-2275
    • For people with disabilities of all ages who are residing in long term care facilities: The Department of Public Health at 1-800-462-5540
  • Boston Area Rape Crisis Center:For assistance 24 hours a day, call their hotline at 800-841-8371
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 / 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or SafeLink at 877-521-2601 / 877-521-2601 (TTY)
  • For resources for survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault, visit Futures Without Violence.

Please reach out if you need help. You can call BCIL at 617-338-6665 or send an email to


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Page was posted on 3/18/2020 6:52 PM
Page was last modified on 4/30/2020 1:16 PM
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