Conversations: May 11, 2020
On May 11, 2020, Matthew Dietz, Litigation Director of the non-profit law firm Disability Independence Group, Inc., and Xavier Cortada discussed how people with disabilities have been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Dietz explains: “The response to this outbreak is far from the empathetic “American Way,” but instead, we have lapsed into the Hobbesian ethic, where the strong survive, and we deny essential testing to the most vulnerable, deny scarce life-saving equipment, rationalize the denial by claiming that the old and disabled would have died in any event.
Then to place insult onto the injury, Florida may immunize those who deny care from total immunity. Even in the event we are overreacting to this pandemic, it still should be a clear signal that disability discrimination may be the only tenet that will be alive and well in our society. The biggest failure of our community is the failure to incorporate pandemic planning into our disaster plan. The creation of programs on the fly without provisions for persons with disabilities demonstrates the scope of this failure. When this is all over, it is essential to convene all stakeholders to investigate this failure and how to ensure that it does not occur again in the future.”
About Matthew W. Dietz
Matthew W. Dietz is a founding member and current Litigation Director of Disability Independence Group. He has been practicing in the arena of civil rights litigation since 1996 and has handled hundreds of matters involving the Americans with Disabilities Act. Mr. Dietz represents victims of discrimination in administrative, trial and appellate proceedings, and has over three hundred reported decisions. In his career, Mr. Dietz has worked to redefine effective communication, reasonable accommodation and expand the rights and opportunities of persons with disabilities. In 2019, Matthew Dietz was awarded the American Bar Association’s Paul G. Hearne award for performing exemplary service in furthering the rights, dignity, and access to justice for people with disabilities.