research questions

The main research question of the project is ‘To what extent did states meet their obligations of ensuring equal access for persons with disabilities to scarce resources in the healthcare system, respecting their dignity and human rights under the UNCRPD, during the COVID-19 crisis?’ The project focuses on Ireland, UK, Spain, Germany, France, Sweden and Italy. 

Research questions will include the following:

  • What health services (disability-specific and otherwise) did disabled people lose access to? 
  • What health services were disabled people able to successfully access remotely? 
  • What supports were available to access these services (e.g. communication, support person attending with the person)? 
  • What health services were disabled people able to successfully access in-person? 
  • What supports were available to access these services (e.g. communication, support person attending with the person)? 
  • Were any extra services added to address the increased need for these supports during the pandemic? (e.g. extra mental health supports). 
  • Were there differences in access to health services for people in congregated settings compared with community settings? 

Health Impact of Supply Chain Access:  

Please provide details of disabled people’s access to the following during the pandemic  

  • Medication (including home oxygen etc) 
  • Assistive devices (purchase/repairs)  

What differences, if any, were noted in supply chain continuity for those living in residential settings versus in the community.  

Covid-related Heathcare: 

  • Were disabled people able to access testing for Covid-19 and was information on testing and the process of testing accessible to all disabled people? (include information on options for at-home testing, community testing and testing in congregated/institutional settings). 
  • Treatment – where did disabled people receive it?  at home, in hospital (e.g., ICUs and high dependency – any specific supports for disabled people), in congregated settings. 
  • Vaccinations – are persons with disabilities prioritised?  
  • How are people informed, where are vaccinations carried out (accessible options for disabled people), how is consent obtained, different vaccines offered to different cohorts/groups of disabled people (including older disabled people) based on efficacy? Vaccination rates of disabled people (disaggregated by community/congregated setting) 
  • Are paid or unpaid carers vaccinated at the same time as disabled people. 
  • What supports were available to enable disabled people make decisions related to Covid 19 testing, treatment, and vaccination.  
  • Mortality rates – community and institutional (died with or from covid) 

Emergency Planning and information provision on Covid19 and related restrictions 

  • Was the lived experience of disabled people at the centre of the planning process? Were DPO representatives included in any ‘vulnerable persons’ Covid Committee sub-groups?  
  • Were disabled people referenced within public health guidance?  
  • How was Covid 19 information regarding restrictions provided?  
  • General impact of covid 19 and any exemptions or reasonable accommodation for disabled people (e.g., hotel quarantine, mask exemptions) 

Congregated Settings:  


Please see questions below, provide details in relation to disabled people within each of the following settings:  

  • Social care institutions 
  • Group homes 
  • Psychiatric hospitals 
  • Asylum-seeker/refugee reception centres 
  • Nursing homes / Residential Aged Care facilities  
  • Children’s homes 
  • Prisons  
  • Homeless Shelters/Emergency Accommodation  
  • Intentional Communities  
  • Other (please specify)  
  • Have admissions of disabled people increased or decreased? Where possible, provide information on whether those in these settings are voluntary or involuntary. 
  • Visits (in-person or virtual)  
  • Discharge or release or transfer (leaving the setting) 
  • Access to general health services (including mental health) 
  • How was information on Covid 19 (testing, treatment, vaccination) and related restrictions made available/accessible to disabled people in these settings?  

Living Conditions:  

In-home assistance:  

  • Personal assistance – if hours changed or were lost, impact on health. 

Disability-specific services: 

  • Describe any pandemic-related changes in:  
  • Access to respite.  
  • Day Services (impact on loss of routine, use as vaccination site) 
  • Any other disability-specific services not covered elsewhere.  
  • What did disabled people lose or maintain access to (remotely or in-person)? Were any additional support services offered to offset the impact of the pandemic?  


  • Did disabled people receive training to ease the transition to working from home?  
  • Were disabled people still able to access reasonable accommodations?  
  • Describe the experience of disabled people returning to work in-person during the pandemic. Were they forced to do so in unsafe conditions, the impact on health?  
  • Describe the impact of the pandemic on employment precarity and type (disabled people within the gig economy)  
  • Did the unemployment rate for disabled people increase/decrease?  
  • Describe the supports to access employment that were available/unavailable or adapted to covid context (e.g. transport) 

Economic Restrictions 


  • Describe any Covid 19 social welfare changes e.g. access to pandemic unemployment payment.  
  • Describe any incidences of disability-related health costs increasing without appropriate support. 


  • Involuntary adaptations to lifestyle – what did disabled people have to do without to survive. How did this impact on their health? 
  • Did the at-risk of poverty rate for disabled people increase or decrease during pandemic? 

Cash and budgeting 

  • Describe the impact of the transition from cash to online digital payments for those disabled people with low financial/technological literacy 


  • Any increase or decrease in accessing foodbanks, homeless shelters.  
  • Access – to online shopping, to specific foods for dietary requirements, etc. 


  • To what extent did disabled people experience delayed transitions (e.g., to employment) and what was the impact on health.  
  • How did disabled students experience the shift to remote learning?  
  • Were disabled people able to access reasonable accommodations during closure / lockdown. 
  • How did disabled people access technology? Did they experience the ‘digital divide’ and if so, what was the impact on health.  
  • What did disabled people retain access in-person in terms of education (and what worked well remotely?  
  • Were disabled people able to access student well-being/health services during the pandemic? What adaptions, if any, were made?  
  • Describe any specific testing protocols for education settings  
  • Any differences between mainstream and segregated education settings 


  • Describe any changes in access to public/private transport experienced by disabled people due to the pandemic?  
  • What services remained available to disabled people? 
  • Detail masking and other exemptions for disabled people on public transport. Is this information accessible? Describe the application process and the willingness of staff to comply with exemptions.  

Freedom of Movement:  

  • To what extent did disabled people in the community feel that there was a disability-specific impact on their freedom of movement as a result of pandemic-related restrictions?  
  • To what extent did this impact on their health? What was the role of carers and support persons in enforcing this?  

Environment and Public Facilities  

  • Describe how an inaccessible environment due to pandemic (queues, no seating, lack of accessible toilets etc) impacted on the health of disabled people.  

Social Life, Culture and Recreation  

  • Describe the impact of restrictions/lack of visitors on the social wellbeing of disabled people.  
  • Describe the impact of the shift to online socialising and the accessibility of virtual cultural events for disabled people. 

Violence and Abuse 

  • Provide sexual and gender-based violence rates (increase or decreasing – in terms of contacts to support services (e.g., rape crisis, domestic violence orgs), official complaints to police) 
  • Provide disability-based violence rates (increase or decreasing including complaints to NGOs or police / prosecution) 
  • Detail measures and supports offered (increased counselling, information shelters etc are they disability-inclusive? Or do they offer any disability-specific supports) 
  • Describe any subjection to physical/verbal abuse (in public or online) due to lack of awareness re: exemption from Covid 19 regulations etc.  

Legal challenges 

  • Please provide details of any court cases which deal with the impact of Covid 19 on the health of disabled people, exemption from restrictions etc.  

Multiple and intersectional identities: 

  • Who are the minority groups in the state? 
  • What specific covid supports have been made available to these groups (e.g. translation of Covid-19 materials for non-native speakers)  
  • Are those supports disability-inclusive for these minority groups? 
  • Any statistics available on covid contraction/treatment, mortality rates, vaccination schedule? 
  • Any data on these groups disaggregated by gender, age, living environment (halting site, direct provision centre etc) and disability.