“Coffee Break”: A New Video Call for People With Disabilities Throughout the Pandemic

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A growing number of headlines focus on Zoom fatigue as the pandemic continues, but video’s vast benefits are also expanding as a tool of greater equality and support for some of the 61 million Americans with disabilities. “Coffee Break” is the latest open call that’s a vital source of social, emotional, and professional connection.

Hosted each Friday by Tia Nelis, policy and advocacy director of the disability rights group TASH, “Coffee Break” started “as a COVID-19 response,” she tells WXXI News reporter Noelle Evans. It arose for “people with disabilities [who] were feeling” isolated “and not having anybody to talk to in some cases. We thought it was important that people could get connected.”

“People unfortunately are losing family members and friends…and they tend to support each other” on the call. “One week we talked about employment and what employment was, and one [person] was talking about the things he wanted to do. It just so happened that another person was on the phone and said, ‘Well, that’s interesting. Maybe we should talk about that after the call.’ And it ended up that he got a job.'”

“There’s a variety of different people, different disabilities,” Nelis says. “Some people don’t speak English all the way, but they participate and feel welcome…Some people use iPads to speak, and we use the chat a lot if we can’t really understand, and they type their question in…[Participants] help each other.”

“Coffee Break” meets every Friday at 3 p.m. ET. Register for the free link. An extra shoutout to WXXI NewsEvans and Jason Harris of Jason’s Connections for the story. Keep tips coming to recharge@motherjones.com.

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