Our Fieldnotes section highlights notable ephemera and other materials — photographs, posters, artwork, event documentation, social media campaigns, and beyond  — encountered during our research that document the experiences of diverse disabled people during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Please note: this page displays notes in a random order each time it is loaded or refreshed.

Photo by People's CDC on May 29, 2022. May be an image of map and text that says 'More than 96% of US residents live in an area with subsantial or high COVID-19 transmission. People's CDC COVID-19 Transmission Levels MAY 26 source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fCous %ofPop. Moderate 16.52% 15.53% 61.27% 3.44% 5.28%'.

The People’s CDC

The People’s CDC was founded in 2022 in response to the CDC “creating the appearance that the pandemic is over.” According to the group’s website, which offers resources and weekly Covid transmission reports, “The People’s CDC is a coalition of public health practitioners, scientists, healthcare workers, educators, advocates and people…...

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Tips for Those Who Cannot Wear a Mask

In this article for Rooted in Rights, author and activist Sunshine Mugrabi writes about her experience as someone who is unable to wear a mask due to chronic regional pain syndrome. Mugrabi discusses personal experiences of trying to navigate doctor’s offices and other spaces with policies that do not account…...

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Five Black and brown men (from left to right: Vince, Jay, Tito, Pete and Var) sit in wheelchairs outside, all lined up in a straight horizontal line facing the camera. They wear T-shirts and sneakers and some wear baseball caps. They all look into the camera with serious expressions.

Fire Through Dry Grass

Jay (second from left) is Co-Director of an upcoming documentary, Fire Through Dry Grass, that is centered on a group of people living at Coler Specialty Hospital on Roosevelt Island, a rehabilitation and nursing center in New York City. These men formed the Reality Poets, and are part of OPEN DOORS, a network of…...

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Screenshot of NYC Department of Education website with a section entitled "More Special Education Support Will Be Available for Students with Disabilities" (full text available at link in post).

NYC Department of Education Academic Recovery Plan

On July 8, 2021 Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter discussed the Academic Recovery Plan on the NYC Department of Education (DOE) website. Acknowledging that disabled students had been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, the DOE plan included the following bullet points: We will launch afterschool and Saturday programs for students with IEPs to…...

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Screenshot of a GoFundMe page for Crip Fund, with an image of a small bottle of hand sanitizer with an Ace of Cups tarot image as its label. The page shows that $56,925 was donated during the short fundraiser.

Crip Fund

Ninety-five percent of artists lost significant income during the pandemic, with performances and exhibitions cancelled and access to studio spaces restricted. A group of disabled and chronically ill artists organized Crip Fund in March 2020, pooling money and distributing food, medicine, and other aid to “immunocompromised and disabled people in need of in-home…...

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Screenshot of cover of report: "Spread Thin: Survey Reveals Students Without Special Education Instruction" featuring a child curled up in a box sucking their thumb.

Special Support Services Advocacy Group

Special Support Services, an advocacy group for disabled students and their families, conducted a survey of parents in 2020 about student educational experiences during the pandemic. Faced with a lack of data and information from the DOE, the advocacy group distributed a 42-question survey in English, Spanish, Chinese and Korean and…...

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Screenshot of video featuring a Black woman speaking about her experience becoming sick with ME/CFS.

#MEAction’s “Stop. Rest. Pace.” Resources

From the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), an illness often triggered by a viral infection (such as Epstein Barr virus), were among the first to raise alarms about the possible implications of post-viral illness following acute infections. As the pandemic progressed,…...

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A tweet from Rent Refusers Network showing a confrontation between activists, the SRG, NYPD, DSNY and DHS at the unhoused camp called "Anarchy Row." (Tweet accessible in post.)

Anarchy Row: NYC’s Management of the Unhoused

More images: In early April 2022, NYC’s administration engaged in a series of sweeps on unhoused encampments in the city in an effort to reduce homelessness in the city. The sweeps consist in dismantling the camps, dislodging people, and discarding their belongings and redirecting them in safe havens or stabilization…...

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Screenshot of tweet from @KateMcWilli that says: "We are all talking about how it feels to see ableds accommodating themselves with the the accessibility that we disabled people fight for every day, all because of #COVIDー19. Let's use the hashtag #AccessiblilityForAbleds when we talk about this. I want to hear your thoughts!"


On March 7, 2020, as North American cities began to respond to the pandemic with remote school and work options, Canadian disability activist Kate McWilliams created the hashtag #AccessibilityForAbleds. The pandemic revealed how easy it was to provide certain accommodations that disabled and chronically ill people had been demanding, unsuccessfully, for…...

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Multiple people laying on the sidewalk holding signs in front of the White House

#MillionsMissing: #MEAction Protests at White House

On September 19, 2022, the activist group #MEAction held a series of protests at and around the White House in Washington, DC, demanding that President Biden declare Long Covid and ME/CFS a national emergency with increased funding for medical education, research, and treatment. Despite knowing that participating in such an…...

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Screenshot of tweet from user @KirkCruz: "How about: LGBTQ+ folks mobilized & demanded help We didn’t sit around waiting for the government to get its shit together. We organized vaxx events at our *bars*, we told our friends, many abstained from sex while waiting to get vaxxed Just like we had to do in the 80s & 90s"

Queer Mobilizations To Counter Monkeypox

As fears of Monkeypox spread arose in the spring and summer of 2022—particularly in and around communities of men who have sex with men and their sexual partners—many were concerned about the possibility of yet another overlapping pandemic, especially one that might further stigmatize LGBTQ populations at a time when…...

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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. The letter "a" in the words "black," "disabled," and "trans" are all connected. The hands are colored using the colors of the trans and Pride flags (including black and brown).

Chella Man: Black Disabled Trans Lives Matter mural

Photograph of a painted mural by artist Chella Man, located at 112 Christopher Street in Manhattan, depicting illustrated hands spelling out the message “Black Disabled Trans Lives Matter” in American Sign Language. As Chella Man notes on his website: Prior to painting, I realized the identities “Black”, “Disabled”, and “Trans”…...

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Screenshot of letter from the NFB to President Biden (full text available via link in post)

NFB on Inaccessibility of At-Home Covid Tests

Throughout the pandemic, many forms of Covid testing have been inaccessible to blind people, from drive-through testing sites to home tests that rely on visual instructions and displays. Some apps, such as Be My Eyes (founded by visually-impaired inventor Hans Jørgen Wiberg) have allowed blind people to video-call sighted people for…...

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A group of protestors stand on the sidewalk holding signs outside of MOCA

Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association Protests MOCA

Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association organized a picket line in September 2021 to protest against MOCA, which is accused of not representing the Chinatown community and “selling out” the community. Local residents, small businesses, and workers in Chinatown are severely hit by the pandemic, while gentrification worsens the living conditions…...

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Governor Cuomo announcing the executive order of NYS-Pause. We can read "Valve closed" and Pause is in the form of an acrostic: P for Policies, A for Assure, U for Uniform, S for Safety, E for Everyone.

New York State Pause Executive Order and Mathilda’s Law

On March 22 2020, with an exponential rate of new COVID cases in the New York State, Governor Cuomo signed two documents: The executive order “New York State on PAUSE” which contains a set of 10 rules for the general population, including closing all non-essential business and banning the gatherings…...

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Screenshot of Chalkbeat article titled "How remote learning upended instruction for NYC students with disabilities and their families" featuring an image of a mother holding her son.

Chalkbeat Reports on Disabled NYC Students during Covid

Chalkbeat, a nonprofit education reporting platform that covers 8 U.S. cities, added Covid reporting to its ongoing series about learning differences and special education in the New York City schools. A June 17, 2020 article offers an overview of the ways “remote learning upended instruction for NYC students with disabilities…...

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Screenshot of "High-Risk Pandemic Stories: A Syllabus" on Disability Visibility website (full text available via link in post)

Alice Wong’s High-Risk Pandemic Stories: A Syllabus

A compilation of essays, interviews, and podcast episodes posted to the Disability Visibility Project site in 2020 and 2021. Compiling this material into a “syllabus” in January 2022, Wong writes, “Since March 2020 I have been collecting strands of disabled wisdom about the pandemic and trying to gather, weave, and…...

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Screenshot of Facebook post from CPC Open Door Senior Center showing collage of images of Chinese-American seniors engaging in various activities and celebrations (full post embedded)

CPC Open Door Senior Center 50th Anniversary

Established in 1972, Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) Open Door Senior Center has become a community space for elderly Chinese immigrants in NYC for 50 years. Reuniting with friends, various performances, and delicious food are our way of celebrating this milestone. — Shuting Li

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A young man stands in a hard, hugging a rainbow umbrella

Ethan Jones’s Coming Out Ritual

Autistic activist Ethan Jones, age 26, photo by Maria Hodamarska (mother), taken June 2020. When the pandemic hit New York, the family moved to Deer Isle, Maine. While there, Ethan told us, that he had time to reflect and embrace what had been an emergent gay identity. On the last…...

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Screenshot of article from the Guardian, featuring illustration of a white woman looking away from the camera with collaged elements including images of pills, medical tests, and viruses.

Medical Gaslighting

In February 2022, Mike Mariana published an article in The Guardian about what he called “the great gaslighting.” Mariana, who lives with ME/CFS, describes the dismissal, “misdiagnosing and psychologizing” of Covid longhaulers as a form of “medical gaslighting” that can lead to “medical PTSD” as well as social stigma and…...

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An Instagram post showing a neon green negative of the zoomed-in side of a KN95 face mask on a black background. Slightly off center is light beige, all caps scripted gothic font that reads ‘FREE’ [end text]. Underneath of this is a ‘KN95’ printed label in all caps bold neon green, and below this is the word ‘MASKS’ in the previous all caps light beige font. In the bottom left corner is marigold yellow all caps scripted gothic font that reads, ‘NYC & LA’ [end text]. In the bottom right corner is the SiQ logo, with the capital letters S and Q in light beige, and the blood drop lowercase letter i in dark red. To the right of the picture, the text of the post says: “SiQ recently received a donation of KN95s from BonaFide Masks to redistribute within our communities. With Covid and other pathogens circulating rampantly, it's crucial to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep each other safe, especially when our governments repeatedly fail us with nonexistent mitigations or precautions in place. We must protect the millions of disabled and newly disabled populations. This affects marginalized communities of color, particularly Black and Indigenous communities, at a disproportionate level, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that everyone has access to safety and protection. It is a human right.”

SIQ’s Mask Distribution Initiative

Since the beginning of February 2023, a grassroot collective of disabled artists, activists, and advocates for justice “Sick in Quarters” (SiQ) have launched a community mask redistribution initiative. Anyone interested could sign up if they can hold a quantity of masks to give freely in their area. By the beginning…...

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A drawing of riders on the subway which serves as the cover of All riders, The letters of the title use the signs and colors of the symbols of subway lines.

Producing Political Documentaries During the Pandemic

During the pandemic, two documentaries were produced and launched by advocacy groups on the question of mobility of disabled people in New York City. NYC’s transit system is notorious for its inaccessibility as, out of over 400 subway stations, less than 30% are accessible—and many of which are only accessible…...

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A community memorial featuring images and text attached to a tree, with a large pile of flowers placed at the base of the tree

In Memory of Lives Lost

This is a picture of an ad-hoc memorial to Christina Yuna Lee, outside of the Chrystie Street apartment building where she died. Her murder has been reported as both part of a rising tide of anti-Asian violence in New York City and part of the uniquely gendered violence that Asian women, in…...

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A cover of the podcast page: against the black background, there is a writing in white big letters “Death Panel”. Below it, in smaller font, there is the name of the episode (“The Unwinding”) and the date of its release (March 30, 2023).

“The Unwinding”

“Death Panel” (, a podcast about the political economy of health, presents an acute critical analysis of the dual news of the upcoming Medicaid Redetermination starting on April 1, 2023 and the end of COVID-19 public health emergency on May 11, 2023. The hosts examine the fact of disbandment of…...

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The black-and-white graphic features a silhouette of a person in profile holding a syringe in one hand. The silhouette has been mirrored both vertically and horizontally so that the figure appears in each corner of the graphic. Written above the figures in varying font sizes from top to bottom are “Stop Rationing Care,” “Stop Medical Apartheid,” “Vaccinate Now,” “Global Inoculation Against Viral Fascism,” “End Eugenics,” and at the bottom of the image “End Vaccine Hoarding.”

Brothers Sick: Pareidolia (Vaccinate Now)

Pareidolia (Vaccinate Now), one of the posters created by Brothers Sick (Ezra Benus and Noah Benus) during the pandemic, reminds that vaccination is urgent but not always straightforward. The Brothers Sick demand an end to medical rationing, the rationing of care, and vaccine hoarding on a global scale. Sussanne Pfeffer, director…...

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An animated, anthropomorphized mouse newscaster shown on a laptop, with a chiron that reads "New York is now the epicenter of the crisis."

2 Lizards animated series

2 Lizards, the brilliant eight-part series of short animations, captures the overwhelming sense of anxiety and isolation — as well as the occasional sense of shared community — that so many NYC residents experienced during the first few months of the pandemic when the city was the epicenter of the…...

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Words #MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy on a Purple paper cut heart on pink background

#MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy (Jen White-Johnson remix)

On January 9, 2022, artist Jen White-Johnson created a cut paper heart design to amplify the hashtag #MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy created by Imani Barbarin (discussed in another fieldnote). Johnson tweeted: “#MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy this hashtag needs to be plastered for all the world to see.” — Mara Mills

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Share Your Stories & Materials

In addition to the ethnographic interviews and oral histories initiated by our team of faculty and graduate students, we are eager to be in dialogue with any members of the community who wish to have their experiences preserved. Our digital repository will be preserved and made accessible by the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, a part of NYU Special Collections, at New York University.

We invite you to share your experiences in one of the following ways: Testimonials, Images & Artifacts, and Interviews / Oral Histories.

Please note: due to size and scope considerations, not all materials will necessarily be included in the archive or website.