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With NSF Grant, Researchers Document the Experiences of Disabled People During COVID

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Our team will collect data about disability and COVID-19 design related issues (e.g., congregate living, telework, tele-therapy) and analyze cases from a design justice perspective.

Mara Mills
Painted mural depicting hands spelling out the message "Black Disabled Trans Lives Matter" in American Sign Language

Photograph of a painted mural by artist Chella Man, depicting illustrated hands spelling out the message "Black Disabled Trans Lives Matter" in American Sign Language.

With a $618,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, a team of NYU faculty and graduate students will document the lives of disabled and chronically ill people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mara Mills, Co-Director of the NYU Center for Disability Studies and Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, is Principal Investigator on this study aimed at understanding the lived experiences of groups that have been particularly at risk. Professors Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp (NYU Anthropology) are the Co-PIs.

Researchers hope that by capturing and analyzing disability expertise during the pandemic, they can 1) address inequities for disabled people as they manage healthcare, employment, and education during and post-COVID, and 2) identify the potential for new models of congregate housing and new remote practices in mobile crisis intervention, tele-therapy, activism, and mutual aid.

The NYU team will collaborate with community members to collect memories, stories, artwork, and other materials to build a publicly accessible archive known as the Disability COVID Chronicles. Conversations on social media, oral histories, records of digital public meetings, and photographs of street art and actions that are otherwise ephemeral will also be collected, interpreted, and preserved as a digital repository by the NYU Tamiment Archives.

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